Harpies in everyday life #6
A trio of yellow claws clutch non-fat lattes
silk and suede feathers reek of carrion
stiletto heels are smeared with foul droppings
Pink stained pouts drip poison
chic bobbed heads dip in unison then
bony chins point to the rafters
They warble their triumph
Some spiteful god has me in his sights
and no classical Jason will drive them all away
One, Two, Three!
Definition of HARPY
1capitalized : a foul malign creature in Greek mythology that is part woman and part bird
2 a : a predatory person : leech b : a shrewish woman
Merriam Webster Dictionary
I equate authenticity with the freedom to be myself e.g. of saying what I really think (not to hurt or wound) instead of keeping silent, of not tending to the endless, tedious exhausting business of having to “fit in”. I used to feel guilty when I had those feelings. I still feel a frisson of envy for those people who can ”tell it like it is.” (I often find that these people who brandish honesty and forthrightness resent the hell out of me when I express my opinion!)
Somewhere along the way I changed from being an extrovert to an introvert.
My mother was an uber extrovert; she charmed in any social situation and could make small talk with a stump. She viewed anyone who eschewed the company of others as eccentric, probably neurotic or at worst seriously disturbed. There were probably more than a few introverts in my family. There was a reason my grandfather used to disappear after spending a few hours en famille.
When I was a university student I could not tolerate solitude. When I was alone, I felt vulnerable and anxious. I had to be among friends or mingling in crowds of people every waking minute. Like a true extrovert, I derived energy from other people. Sadly, a frenetic social calendar is inimical to great academic achievement, at least in my experience.
The process of becoming an introvert began after I was married. I wasn’t “me” anymore, I was just an extension of my husband and not a very interesting one at that. I stopped speaking up because people were not interested in what I had to say (dismissed as dumb blonde right out of the starting gate) or did not understand (e.g. They thought Monty Python was a new cartoon character) They were more interested in my husband, I was just the accessory on his arm. Anyway, how do you compete with a chef? People are endlessly enthralled by the cooking profession or probably food has universal appeal. Ancillary to being married to a chef is the ability to be alone – a lot. They work 16+ hour days and you can forget about holidays or time off. I adapted to being on my own, then on my own with kids. I would have to say the process started then and is complete today. (I was probably a closet introvert all along!)
I am most content curled up on my couch with a book in hand and laptop close by. (Tweet, post, blog, et cetera) I like to travel, hike, stay fit, go to concerts and plays, explore and experience new things as often as I can. I have people who I care about and who care about me and that’s enough. One good thing about getting older is that I care less and less what others think of me. I have too much to do and too many other things on my mind.
I am an unabashed introvert and my mother would still not understand.
Nostalgia for summers lost
August on the wane
fall nibbles at its warmth
on the radio a haunting melody
of shipwrecks and disasters
behind me hazy outlines
lazy days of beer and sunshine
faded photos, faces meld as one
on the outskirts of the city
geometry of campus skyline
impersonal space, hard edges, logic
wipe my mind clean
“You can’t hide your true colours as you reach the autumn of your life.” True.
“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Facta non verba (Deeds not words)
According to Meriam Webster:
“Simple Definition of meeting : a gathering of people for a particular purpose (such as to talk about business) : a gathering of people for religious worship : a situation or occasion when two people see and talk to each other.”
My job involves many meetings which I would gleefully forgo if I could get away with it (not get fired.) I need to be present, somewhat sentient and most enervating of all record minutes for each proceeding. [An aside: evidently I am a minute taker par excellence, a regular Ninja minute taker. (as if anyone other than a nitpicking drone would ever actually read them) I think I’ll have an inscription on my tombstone ”She came, she saw, she took great minutes.” Being a “great minute taker” is like being the best hog caller in Bugtustle, not the kind of thing for which you want to be known.
The same personality types seem to show up at meetings. These types create impasses, bottlenecks and inertia – the antithesis of getting things done.Why is it that so many people are incapable of simply meeting together, having a fruitful discussion and moving forward? I attended many meetings where nothing was accomplished, where the same topics kept coming back like walkers on the Walking Dead and valuable minutes of my life were wasted when I could have been reading or writing. As Mao Tse Tung once acidly remarked, “%^&* or get off the pot!”
10 Common Personality Types at meetings:
- The Bumptious Blowhard: His or her ultimate goal is to dominate and shove their opinions down everyone’s throats. (I would like to shove their opinions somewhere else.)
- The Obfuscator: This one never, ever makes any sense, uses tortuous logic and 50 words when 5 will do.
- The Man/Woman who wasn’t there: They sit with a strained/bored look on their faces, regularly look down at their phones and wish they were somewhere else. I can relate.
- The Pettifogger: They expound on the most inconsequential points ad nauseam. This usually chews up valuable time at the start of the meeting so that the rest of the agenda is rushed or has to be tabled.They make me long for a roll of duct tape.
- Voted-most-likely-to-veer-off-topic: Closely related to the pettifogger, they talk about some tangential point only faintly related to the topic at hand. Alway long winded, they go on while the clock ticks precious seconds off your life. Another candidate for duct tape.
- The Perennial Absentee: They simply don’t show up, the meeting never seems to “match their schedules”. Some other poor schmuck gets stuck doing the meeting-skipper’s share of the work.
- The Narcissist: The meetings are a showcase for their incredible talents, skills and hubris. They love the sound of their own voice and trot out some obscure nuggets likely culled from a handout at least 10 years out of date.
- The-Thick-as-a-Brick: They stop to ask questions every 2 minutes, then do not bother to pay attention – everything has to be explained over and over and over again. Tedious.
- The Debbie Downer: They complain and find fault but take no action to improve the situation. Always find a problem with any decision taken, including what kind of office garbage bags to buy. Eats away at morale and everyone’s nerves.
- Most dangerous of all – the BIG IDEA person: One brilliant idea after another spurts from their febrile imaginations. The only problem is that abstract ideas are all they have. When the rubber hits the road they have no clue how to actually make things happen. Guess what? That part falls on the shoulders of the worker bees while the Big Idea person takes credit for everything.
A saviour in the form of a strong chairperson who doesn’t suffer fools gladly and takes no crap can thwart most of these types. Having a clear purpose and outcomes can help improve meetings along with an achievable agenda and an understanding of roles and processes. Listening to people talk makes me realize there are two types of people in the world: the talkers and the doers. I know which one I want to be. I also believe successful meetings involve R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (an item in short supply these days) for other people and their time. Life is waaaaaaaaaaay too short to spend at a meeting that should have been an email!
It was particularly difficult to say farewell to summer this year. I relished in the long lazy days of reading, writing, going for meandering walks or just watching the sky. I love those kind of days when you can take your time, appreciate what is around you and can go to bed at night without dreading the next day. (or wake up in the middle of the night with your mind running like a hamster on his treadmill!)
With the advent of fall, that relaxed regime has had quite an adrenaline shot. I am back in the frenzy of work, work and more work. Everyone is back in town from their summer vacations and leap right into the frenetic routine of work-meetings-work-meetings-work-meetings. To personify, summer is soft and languid while fall is hard-edged and brisk. (Not to mention winter is coming) While the alternative of being unemployed has zero appeal, it is hard not to feel wistful about the loose, unfettered days of summer.
Here and Now
The war was over. Each day thousands of refugees staggered into the camp. Iliodor lay on a cot in the stinking barracks. When he coughed his body jerked, expelling bloody clots of phlegm.
“Who are you?” barked his interlocutor.
Iliodor coughed and spat into his face.
“Don’t criticize what you can’t understand.”
Mistresses of the sidelong glance, pursed lips and narrowed eyes
their claws out in anticipation.
An interloper will not obey group norms
byzantine to all
but their inbred nucleus.
Heads adjoined, a hydra of bile,
they spew a lethal cocktail of hatred and malice,
a blitzkrieg of pettiness, innuendo and spite
thoroughly and relentlessly as a conqueror razes a city.
They drag her through the noxious sludge of degradation.
Inevitable denouement is ostracism final as ancient Athens,
a surgical cut
until she is laid bare,
her spirit torn to dirty scraps pelted by the wind.
Satisfied, they begin once more.