Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Band of Courage

I have a second job. I used to wear that fact like a scarlet letter, ashamed and shaken.

That was more than two years ago. Two years of bending stooped over to secret away this failing in my life. I surely felt the fingers upon me: "What's become of him?"

Today, of course, I stand upright. I look people in the eye, invite them to come see me at job No. 2. I no longer look upon having to hold a second job as some economic misdeed.

See, I once thought I was alone. But when I looked up from my oar, I saw a galley of people rowing right along with me.

You are more likely today to have a second job than not. The double dippers are all around you: the teacher, the secretary, the paramedic, your dental hygienist, perhaps even your supervisor at job No. 1.

That clerk in the department store might look tired and lethargic because she already has worked 8 hours at job No. 1 and came straight there without dinner. Who puts those groceries on the shelves while you sleep? Guys who caught three hours sleep before coming in to job No. 2. Who makes sure your office is clean by morning? The same man who perhaps already spent a day on the road filling vending machines.

What are our stories? They are many. Some do it so their spouse can stay at home with small children. Some do it to earn extra pocket money. Some do it to get a child through school. Some have family medical expenses. Some have been laid off from a job that now requires two incomes to match. Some, like I, do it to make ends meet, and even then the meeting is more like a distant nod than handshake.

I love my second job, perhaps because it is so different from my career. Job No. 1 is shirt and tie/sit behind a desk at a computer. Job No. 2 is hard, physical labor at a Home Depot garden center. It involves driving powerful lift equipment and knowing about grass and weeds, plants and patio stones. I supervise no one. I help people and given them advice. It is great stress relief.

But don't be fooled. We two-jobbers sacrifice a great deal. One two-jobber I recently talked to reminisced about her recent weekend in a mountain cabin by herself doing nothing other than reading books. It had been her first weekend off in 11 years of, frequently, seven-day weeks.

I am reminded every day of what I sacrifice. No. 3 has a daily routine of asking me if I am going to "Depot" that night. And usually she says, "You don't have to go to Depot any more?" I tell myself it is just a 3-year-old's game that she plays, but I am not so sure.

I have also sacrificed the ability to relax. I can no longer sit down on the sofa and watch TV or read a book without also doing something else, like laundry. I used to be a great enjoyer of leisurely walks, working out in the gym, reading for long stretches. I am capable now of none of that. If I am not working a job, I feel I must be productive and do chores that too often get neglected.

And of course, I sacrifice time with my family. I will never get that back in life. I know that. But we all make choices in life and live with the consequences of our actions. I wish it were not so, but we must accept that which we draw.

We two-jobbers aren't looking for sympathy, and for God's sake certainly not pity. I'm not even really sure we seek anything, other than to stand straight and let you know who we are.

Recently, Home Depot gave each of its associates one of those popular colored rubber bands with an inspirational slogan. Ours is orange and says simply "Improve everything we touch." I wear it proudly. It is my band of courage.

Monday, March 14, 2005

No. 3 rocks!

I have been playing Green Day's "American Idiot" much too much in the car. No. 3 the other day was singing along: "Are We We Are the Waiting." She, like I, has trouble hitting that high note.

Friday, March 04, 2005

How Keane!

Was dressing for work this morning in the bedroom, watching VH1 when No. 3 comes in to check out the scene. She looks up at the TV playing Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know," and says: "Hey, that's mommy's song."

Turns out No. 1 likes that song immensely and plays it intensely in the car, so No. 3 has really absorbed it. No. 3 thus stands in front of the TV and sings along to the video.

I laughed at first, but then seeing how intently she followed along, I began to realize I had created yet one more music video junkie. Please do not report me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Facial features

To sport a beard is to never be completely confident that your face is entirely free of food, especially after having eaten a peanut-butter bagel.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Drool or cool

Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post weighs in on the blogging that undid CNN news exec Eason Jordan and the greater weight of the blogger nation at large.

Monday, February 14, 2005

A Legend in his own time

Got introduced briefly today on TV to John Legend and his debut cd "Get Lifted." A few words and info about it are here.

I saw his new video for the song Ordinary People, directed by Kanye West. It's as true a song about marriage as one might ever find -- or want to hear. The video, directed by Kanye West, interlaces images of Legend playing piano with that of extremely passionate, hate-filled fights between couples, including one in which the husband and wife play tug-of-war with their young child. Not the kind of thing you're expecting to see on VH1 first thing in the morning, but it's transfixing. Check it out.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Brilliant!

I love digital cable. Don't really like the extra $ it has added to the cable bill, but what gems for the price.

No. 1 and I have taken to watching European soccer on Fox Sports World. Where else can you hear a game announcer use the word "phlegmatic" to describe a coach? Certainly not on this side of the pond. I find myself shouting at the players now. I like that Wayne Rooney guy on M. United. Seems like a real throwback athlete: let's play our guts out and then go to the pub until we puke the rest of our guts out. And the Guinness ads? "Brilliant!"

No. 3 has even taken to watching the games with mommy when I'm not around. Yesterday morning, as I readied 3 for school, I asked what she did the night before. "We watched football," she said matter-of-factly. Now, someday I'll need to square "football" as she knows it with "football" as I grew up knowing it, but I'll worry about that down the line.

Another digital diamond: VH1 classic. If you grew up on videos, this is for you. Lots of videos, few commercials and the occasional VJ. Holy cow, it's 1982 all over again. And the content? The programmers seem enamored with playing all the off-the-wall crap that streamed into VHS along with the cool stuff. The other day, I saw Ted Nugent doing "Cat Scratch Fever." Today, it was Haircut 100's "Love Plus One." Like I said, you take the good with the bad. Now, if only I could find them playing Flash in the Pan.

Where's the time?

Just read where the blogosphere has uncovered a supposed Bush White House plant in the reporter corps. Where do all these bloggers have the time to delve into this? Perhaps next they need to share time management skills with the rest of us.