When I worked at Glide (they update their website now!), I designed this makeshift sign that I manually laminated with contact paper which served the purpose of either the old open/closed signs my Dad used to package with FAX machines when he sold them in the 80’s or whiteboards on college dorm room doors. I made the latter correlation when one of the Administrative Assistants I hired used a whiteboard instead, but she was fresh out of college and the whiteboard thing was far too closely associated with college for me. Not that my makeshift sign looked all that more serious.
I wish I had a picture, but I can’t seem to find one in my archives. I didn’t take all that many pictures at Glide… even though my parents warned me about sufficiently chronicling a workplace, workplaces always seem like the mundanely ordinary in contrast to the extraordinary that’s worth documenting. Anyway, the basic idea was that it was a basic 8.5×11 with the phrase Storey is…, then a little transparent holder, then and will return…, then another transparent holder. And then I had all these fiddly little inserts that I would drop in the transparent slots, such as at Lunch, in a Meeting, Done Today for the top slot, and at noon, at 1:15, at 3:30 for the bottom. Yeah, I actually had them in 15-minute intervals from about 9:00 to 5:00. People really needed to know where I was.
I even made one of these for my super-incompetent boss in the early job, whose incompetence was based in never being reachable. The day he asked me to make one of these for him, my heart leapt with the joy of realizing that he really did care that people knew where he was and I would no longer need my Sherlock Holmes hat whenever someone called regarding his whereabouts. Of course, he used it maybe twice and it kept falling off his door in these sweeping metaphorical gestures about his general findability. Also, it misled a good number of people because he didn’t remove the inserts when he was neglecting it, so it would say he was in a meeting till 3:00 for twelve straight days. Which… was about right.
Anyway, I had a dream just now (I’m apparently sleeping and waking in roughly alternating 4-hour shifts, which I take optimistically as a sign that I do have an infection [ear? sinus?], but my body’s gotten serious about fighting it off) wherein I’d laid out all the little inserts for the sign on the front of the Glide Celebration (which is what they call their “church” services, which are somewhere between a Gospel rock-concert and a race to reference every known human religion) stage for some clearly work-related purpose. Em and I were in the front row, keeping an eye on all these little inserts, some of which weren’t laminated (historically accurate – you try wrapping contact paper around every quarter-hour between 9:00 and 5:00… it gets aggravatingly dull), trying to make sure the ratty little things didn’t blow all over the stage. And then it was time for the sermon and Cecil was preaching and I whispered to Em about how he preaches more often than I’d thought when we went to Celebration that one time and I told her it was very rare to see him preach and he glowers at me from the pulpit and I can’t tell if it’s because I’m whispering as he starts to speak or because I’ve left all these annoying little papers at the front of the stage for some purpose he’s either forgotten or can’t see. And I’m having trouble seeing the purpose myself and am considering cleaning them up, just sweeping them into the disorganized pile they often became themselves when I was switching them out frequently (like, six times a day) and didn’t have time to sort them and they got all disheveled, but I’m pretty sure my rising and doing this will be even more glower-worthy than the status quo and I decide to sit tight and try to enjoy his words and I wake up.
I think a little smidge of this dream may be about missing Glide, although the incumbent stress of the situation seems to belie that interpretation. Maybe I miss the stress that came with those ever-changing inserts, the correlated expectations on my time and energy. As I commented to Em a couple nights ago, going somewhat insane over the dearth of detailed feedback yet received on American Dream On (I get it, everyone’s much busier now with their lives than they were in 2001), I don’t get a lot of confirmation these days that I’m doing a good job. Much has been made of the solitude of the writing process and while I enjoy the aloneness of the creation, I really crave the confirmation (or denial) of others once the process is done. At Glide, three people a day told me I was impacting them in some direct and almost always positive way. When writing, one goes months at a time with no outside feedback whatsoever.
Which I guess is why people like Greg tend to release things serially in chapters. But that makes the process itself far too dependent on others, far more organic and focus groupy than I’m interested in. Besides, I’d just have heard the same overreactions to the difficulty of the subject matter – the “darkness” and “depression” and so forth – in 2002 instead of the last week. Which might have prompted me not to go on at all, or to change the project into something it wasn’t. No thanks.
A small price to pay for doing what one wants, for having freedom over one’s life. Really. But I’m beginning to think the most satisfying part of being picked up by a major publishing house (if/when it happens) would/will be getting a big unadulterated dose of others’ opinions about the work. Just like… y’know, work.