Tuesday, January 19, 2010

We’d like to know a little bit about you for our files

It’s hard to work after a three-day weekend. With the regular old two days, you never fully feel you’ve left the office, except for that one glorious moment, Saturday 7:30ish, when the phantom of your alarm wakes you and you roll right back into sleep. But then reality taps you on the shoulder—now’s all right, but Sunday will bring volunteer tutoring, and then it’s basically Monday. Again.

A long weekend, though! Redraws your boundaries. Suddenly you remember what freedom smells like. And it’s a revelation. You revert, as I so recently mentioned, to glorious impractical midnight oil schedules; you busy up your Saturday with full knowledge that you’ve still got two days to recover, to rest, to do whatever it is you want to do. You meet people and deal with your irritating errands and go on unnecessarily long dark cold walks across the Williamsburg Bridge, just because you can. And then—surprise! Happy Tuesday!

I don’t mean to imply I don’t like my job. I do. Just that sometimes—post-holiday mornings and slow Friday afternoons, I’m looking at you—it gets stale here, surrounded by gray cubicle walls only slightly alleviated by the slow accumulation of postcards (thanks, M—, for the duck I received this weekend). There’re only so many times I can scan the internet for the next big thing or pull open a novel or a book of poems while waiting for cases to arrive. Some files—mysterious mafia clippings requested by a far-flung writer, for instance—haven’t materialized since August despite my best efforts. Perhaps they never will.

This morning everyone’s gone to court. I’m sure it’s not actually high entertainment but I envision them sitting in their Tuesday-best suits in the stands at the circus. They munch peanuts and popcorn and occasionally throw things, the better to show off their disapproval. One of them sidles up to the ringmaster, whispers the office’s recommendation. The lion tamers stand in the court’s corners, whips at their sides, poised, ready. Or maybe it’s more of a bullfight—audience leans in closer to watch the elaborate rotational dance of predator and prey. Judge’s robes a sort of matador’s cape.

Don’t feel sorry for me, though, here outside the carnival gates. I’m well aware there’s much worse out there. I am an accomplished misery poker* player, and I concede today my hand is lame. I could be one of these players, for instance. Got a day that can beat mine? Do tell! Schadenfreude, as a friend once said, ist die beste Freude.

*For thems that don't know, now you too can join the dance.

PS: Blogspot, why do you delete my double spaces between sentences? I put them there on purpose.

PPS: Update! I've got 9 new files to deal with! Hoooorah. (You think I'm being sarcastic. You're only 93% wrong.)


  1. I'm not one to miserypokerify, but I think my day was worse than yours (though it wasn't that bad in the long run, really).

  2. Livejournal also deletes double spaces between sentences, I've discovered. I'm told that this is standard now that we have computers with proportionally spaced fonts. Most style guides now seem to recommend only one space after a full stop, although I definitely remember being taught to put two spaces--in fact, my family's very first computer would pick up a single space after a period during spell check and suggest replacing it with two spaces.

    Ooh, and while I was trying to find out the term for proportionally spaced fonts, I discovered that Wikipedia actually has a whole article on this topic.

    I don't know if this is why Blogspot and Livejournal automatically remove the extra spaces, though, or if it's just part of their general inability to recognize blank spaces. (Try typing a row of dots with spaces in between and then posting it and you'll see what I mean.)

  3. Thanks! Very informative. The copyeditor in me winces that I do not follow the Chicago Manual on this; but hey, guess it doesn't matter, since the internet will change it for me anyway!

  4. Odds are that they are mostly sitting around.

    But you knew that.

  5. What they were *actually* doing: a partial list

    -Using their cell phones.
    -Getting told off for using their cell phones.
    -Making a chart of all the days they plan to go to the gym this calendar year.
    -Reminding each other to tell me the ridiculous story about the cat after returning to the office.
    -Listening to a defendant have an asthma attack.
    -Wondering at the humanity of it all.

  6. I spent work yesterday going through 150 pages of a document I worked on over the summer, for the sole purpose of removing the second space after each period. Apparently the new document template came with a wholesale repudiation of all that is wholseome and good in typography!

    Not a very good misery poker hand, fraid to say.

  7. Me, I spent my workday informing criminals via letter that I wasn't going to give them files. I could, however, write as many double spaces as I damn well pleased... Spose we all win some and lose some!