Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Um, Yeah...

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed today. Along with an assortment of everyday tasks, the new Boss-Guy has asked me to do two things this week: to write up my job-description so he can understand what I do, and to start coming in promptly at 10 instead of rolling in around 11ish. Perfectly reasonable things, things that I pretty much volunteered to do before he asked me, but they are putting me in a very strange and unusual head-space.

So here's the description of all my tasks that I wrote out:

    Job Description

    Staff Secretary

    1. Phones: answering and directing calls, taking or forwarding messages; answering callers’ questions if possible, or advising callers on who best to contact.

    2. Email: Archive, respond to, and/or forward emails received; maintain current email addresses of Executive Body and Membership; write and send emails as required.

    3. Mail: sort and/or open incoming mail to its recipient(s) or to file; forward mail as necessary; handle outgoing mail as needed; maintain postage meter and scale.

    4. Filing: maintain archival files of all documents that come into the office and copies of documents going out, especially as pertain to grievances, cases, or other issues being handled by the Union.

    5. Word Processing: edit and formalize all outgoing correspondence; edit and/or create all flyers, newsletters, and other documents as needed.

    6. Printing: print flyers and newsletters, maintain photocopier, make copies of various documents on request.

    7. Database: maintain Membership database and copy of District Faculty database in MS Access, input new members and delete old files; forward new members’ information to District and National Affiliate; reconcile database with District deduction registers

    8. Banking: receive faculty payroll deductions from District; make deposits to Union bank account; keep records of all transactions.

    9. Bookkeeping: report bank deposits and checks written from office; calculate raw numbers for Per Capita payments from payroll deduction registers; assist Bookkeeper and facilitate financial transactions as needed; forward timesheets and any necessary information to payroll service.

    10. Supplies: purchase, organize, and maintain all office supplies and some equipment.

    11. Meetings (Executive Body & Membership): arrange meeting rooms; print and distribute Agenda and other related documents; purchase and/or arrange meeting refreshments for Executive Body Meetings; record attendance and provide voting materials (ballots, etc.) for Membership Meetings; attend meetings and take notes of proceedings; create minutes if necessary.

    12. Membership: provide information regarding membership benefits as well as other issues to members; coordinate dues/fees and membership-status issues between District Payroll Department and Faculty members; produce membership applications and facilitate their return.

    13. Elections: facilitate all Union elections—creating, printing and distributing documents, mailing ballots, recording ballot returns, and reporting results.

    14. Hudson Audit: provide documents and assistance as requested to Auditor; produce annual Agency Fee Payers Notice; distribute by mail to all agency-fee payers; forward all Hudson Reduction requests to District Payroll Department; arrange requested rebates when necessary.

    15. Web: create and maintain Union website; add documents and formatting as needed; publish newsletters and other documents to the web.
Do I really do all of that? Well, on some things, like the filing and the mail, I don't do much of it or I'm really not good at it... but it's my responsibility to do it. What I find funny about this list, after I wrote it, is that the things I spend most of my time doing are described in very few words ("...and other documents as needed" describes about 75% of my work), and the things that take up very little of my time, or only occasionally take up my time, require a lot of words to describe (like the Hudson Audit that is only done annually, or the meetings that are only twice a month).

But the reason this is putting me in a weird headspace is that I suddenly feel pressured by all my multitudinous little tasks. I'd never seen my entire job written out like that before (since the document didn't exist until I wrote it), and I'm a little overwhelmed by the magnitude of separate tasks that I have to deal with. My logical mind knows that I've been doing all this crap all along for four and a half years, and so I should be pleased that I am capable of doing so many different things; but my illogical little alcoholic mind quails before the sheer hugeness of it all. It's nerve-wracking.

The other thing is that I set my alarm for 8 (I usually put it at 9), got up at the first buzz (instead of pushing the snooze button every ten minutes for an hour), had my coffee and read my email and all my daily blogs, took a shower, got dressed, and was out of the house at 9:45 and sitting at my desk at 10 o'clock sharp. I checked messages and emails, then I ran a couple of errands, and got some other things done, wrote a long-ass email to my mother in which I described in some detail my opinion of the current political situation in the State and Nation, made a few phone-calls, counted out the newsletters for distribution, went for a breakfast pastry and coffee, came back and wrote a few letters and whatnot, talked about all sorts of different things with coworker BB, and am in general having this wildly productive day. It's kind of scary.

I guess I'm having a manic episode. I feel all pumped with nervous energy. And judging from past experience, the manic episodes are usually followed by a crash, so I had better milk the mania for all it's worth and get as much done as I can before I tank out.

Well, that's all I have to say today. Here is the email from my mother (so you can see what I'm up against) and the reply I sent back (because I think it's interesting, and because I can't think of anything else to talk about), followed by a nice little piccie:

    Subj: Just me saying Hi

    Date: 3/4/03 9:50:56 AM Pacific Standard Time

    From: kathryn***@***.com

    To: robert@mannersism.net

    Greetings! I had better get back to school, I'm turning into a country hick! 

    The U.S. bombing overseas, really bothers me. There are so many treasures over there, burried in the sands of time, which will be forever lost in the distruction. Hay, are you going to get involved in the Grey Davis recall?  A grass roots org. called "Peoples Advacates" is heading this move.  The "human sheilds" (War protestors) have gone home? It seems that they don't  REALLY want to die for there cause, and with Bushs finger on "The Botton"; there's a good chance they will get blown up too.

    Becky [my half-sister. Ed.] wrote a short story. I will be sending you. It's both dark, and disturbing, but not easily forgotten. It would be great if you would give her your oppinion. Literature is your thing! I got to school a little late so I couldn't catch Beck before here 8:00 class.I'll have to wait until her 12:30 break now.  I come to school to use their computers!

    As for my life this semester, its "not"! I'm taking a semester off, and can't wait to get back to school. I've turned into a house potato..getting all my inspiration from what is on the T.V. Yes, there are educational programs to be found, (I have found them all) But I'm tired of watching the dogs, the T.V. and not going anywhere.  Next week LeRoy [half-brother] and Becky are going to be working at the Celtic Fair from Thusrday til the following sunday nite, so I will be watching Heather and Christopher [Becky's kids]. Nathan [the other half-brother] is in jail for probation Violation til after St Patrick's day. I'm getting tired of his jail stuff. HE BETTER GIVE UP ON DRINKING.

    I will be able to go down to see my mom for a few days after all that.  Margaret [Mother's sister] fell and broke her tail-bone.  Whats going to happen if Mom out lives Margaret? Marg & Tom made sure all the money was in their control. No back-up plan.. Oh well, Mom set things up that way.  

    Did you have a martigra ( Marty-graw) celebration in your neck of the woods? We had one up here. The owner of the Sonora Inn puts it on every year. Becky got to go this time, as I babysat. She had a great time. I did get jealous, although I didn't say anything to Becky about  it. I've been to that party before.. and it IS a blast! Becky went with her girlfriend Jamie. Luke (Beckys boy-type-friend) wasn't invited. Why? Cuz he's no fun!  He wont get a job; so he's broke all the time, and the "charity case thing" is getting really old. 

    Hmmmm, I'd better cut this off, there are students lined up to use the computers, and I'm really NOT a student right this minute!  Sooooooooooo Write back!  Yes I wanna know whatz goin' on with you!  I loves ya baby!!


    Subj: Re: Just me saying Hi

    Date: 3/4/03

    To: kathryn***@***.com

    Hi, Mother!

    Good to hear from you. I was sorry we couldn't come up and visit earlier this year, but these things happen. So far this year I have been having a hard time keeping up with life. Between working during the week and then doing all my social-type stuff on the weekends, and then running errands with or for Grandmother, it's hard to keep up with housework-type stuff ... and so anything that doesn't fall into those catergories or takes more than two hours is just about impossible.

    I haven't quite grasped the Gray Davis recall. Didn't we just elect him? (and by WE I don't mean you or I or anybody we know, I certainly don't know anyone who voted for him... I only mean We the State of California) I think there are too many other things to worry about than Gray Davis. Yeah, he's a corporate shill and a business-as-usual pseudo-Democrat, and quite probably at least partly responsible for that Enron scam called the Energy Crisis, but I have better things to occupy my mind. At least it had the effect of popping the bubble of the Dot-Com Boom before it got any farther out of hand. Rent and property prices and the cost of living haven't gone down much since then, even though now nobody can afford to pay those prices, but at least they aren't going up anymore.

    But anyway, in general, I am not going to get personally involved in any political movement or motion or anything. I don't believe in marching and protesting in person and allying onesself with a lot of filthy hippies and Anarchists and whoever else decides to show up at whatever Rallies are organized. I see that they serve a purpose, but they don't serve my purposes (and in fact cause me great inconvenience on occasion), so I don't do it.

    I'm just going to register my opinion with anyone who has any power to do anything (my congresspeople have all received emails, as has the President... though I doubt very seriously if anybody but some half-literate intern ever read them) and then sit back and watch them dig themselves into a deep hole of sociopolitical nightmare... and then I will laugh at them. The way I see it, the nation is going to hell in a handbasket, and about half the citizens are pushing as hard as they can to get the handbasket to go faster. I'm just going to enjoy the ride as best I can.

    See, this is the problem with democracy: it's vulnerable to demagogues. The reason the Founding Fathers set up the Constitution the way they did was to prevent a government by and for the people from becoming a mob of rabble... some people will view government by the people as being "majority rule," and will therefore try to persuade the majority to one's own ends. The unfortunate truth about The People is that the majority of people are ignorant, bigoted, and superstitious. However, our founders believed that people will do the right thing if given the chance, and if leaders are prevented from destroying opposition. That is why Freedom of Speech is such an important right.

    But sometimes our baser natures triumph. Our current government has managed to align itself with a social movement that is peculiarly successful right now, because it appeals to ignorance. Currently the media is leaning towards a reactionary frame of reference in which wilful ignorance and social recidivism are passed off as "common sense" (because telling stupid people that they're smart is a great way to get ratings and sell magazines... just look at Rush Limbaugh). The Republican Party, particularly that portion of it which is currently in charge, has married itself to that same target demographic, and now it pretty much controls the thoughts and perceptions of a quorum-majority of voting Americans (a little more than half, by my guess). And with half of America buying their every word and believing their every lie, they can sway the Stupids with very little effort.

    But do not be deceived yourself. The current government is based on corporate greed, and is using the same tactics that advertisers and the mass media use to sway the public into buying corporate products. Bombing Iraq may very well be necessary, I don't personally know what's going on over there; but I do not believe for a minute that Dubya cares what is or isn't going on over there... this move is purely a diversionary tactic, largely to draw attention away from his complete failure in Afghanistan, which was in itself a diversionary tactic to draw attention away from the corporate pillaging of our nation's resources.

    Did you know, for example, that the EPA has been completely gutted in the last year and a half? That contracting grants have been passed through the legislature that allow for the destruction of National Park lands? Most people are, I think, unaware of this, far too busy worrying about Osama and Saddam way off over there. It's a simple conjuring trick, and I am disgusted by my fellow citizens that they allow this.

    Whooops, there I go on my soap-box again. Let me climb down so I can go about my daily business.

    I have gotten myself involved in something new... I'm in the Living Sober Musical. I play "Marla," the drag-queen coffee-house waitress. I only have one spoken line ("I know some drag-queens who are into it") and may get one solo-sung line ("a little bit of lipstick never hurt no one"), and the rest I'm sort of in the chorus. There's lots of singing and dancing involved. I've never done anything like this before, it's totally new and a little scary, and very exciting.

    We haven't had any sort of Mardi Gras celebrations around here. It seems to me that Hallmark is trying to take over the holiday and turn it into a big national whatnot, when in fact it is merely an overgrown Catholicism from the least-"American" city in this country. Like the way they've taken over St Patrick's Day in New York and turned it from a celebration of an ethnic identity into a national excuse to get drunk.

    Anyway, I had better get to work. I've got lots to do today, and I won't get it done bitching and moaning about government and society and all the stupid people who seem to be in on the joke. Hope you're having a super day!



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