Tag Archives: The Daily Communiqué:

The Daily Communiqué – 15 April, 2019 – Notre Dame

@dibujosdecristina

Instagram: @dibujosdecristina

It is too much.  Notre Dame burning seemed farcical, and that’s how a co-worker and I treated it, at first.

He heaved a huge sigh which I remarked on hearing over my headphones.  “I think it’s the end times,” he said.

“What?”

“No, I’m serious.  Notre Dame’s burning.  It might be the end times.”

Then I said maybe god was pissed at Benedict for the horrible things he said in his letter.

“But if he’s dead, how can he be pissed?”

I was confused.  “Benedict isn’t dead.”

Click.  Whir.

“Oh!  Nietzsche …”

Hearing the news coverage on the way home broke my heart.  A place I’ve never been, yet so iconic as to feel like I know it caught fire.  The flames seen from miles away.  Paris came to a standstill as citizens of the world stopped what they were doing, to bear witness to the awfulness.  People prayed, sang, knelt, and wept at the sight.

Meanwhile, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem was also on fire.  But you wouldn’t know that.  Not even Al-Jazeera has much to say about it.

So much hardship to be borne in the world. It makes giving up look like a good idea.  Do Not.  We must be strong for each other, and ourselves.

The Daily Communiqué – 14 April, 2019 – Week 2 Recap

Monday’s announcement of the Hugo nominees led me to write about my experiences with WorldCon and meeting authors.

I’ve been listening to a lot of different music at work, thanks to the global record collection, and shared some of my discoveries on Tuesday.

In the same vein, on Wednesday there were works by artists I found intriguing.

Some reflective writing on writing on Thursday.

A tiny bit of fiction for Friday night.  The monster is real!

And rounding out the week, my reaction to former pope Benedict’s letter about sex abuse in the Catholic Church.

Currently reading:  Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James.  I don’t know what I think about it yet, other than it’s weird.

The Daily Communiqué – 13 April, 2019 – Benedict

I cannot let this pass.

The ex-pope known as Benedict released a screed blaming the sexual revolution of the 1960s for priests abusing children in the Catholic church.

Rachel Donadio’s article in The Atlantic is a fascinating look into the bizarre writings of a 92 year old pope emeritus, and how they’ve just muddied the handling of an already fraught situation.

“From afar, the Vatican is seen as an impenetrable and mysterious world, a place of ancient, sacred rituals and quiet religiosity. Inside, it turns out it’s a bureaucracy like any other. Sometimes the former boss weighs in, and what was once opaque becomes clearer, and even stranger.” (

Let’s be clear, abuse is not about an absence of God or the presence of naked bodies on billboards, it is about the agency of predators.  Millions of children have been traumatized because priests chose to sexually abuse them.

I know from experience how difficult it is to deal with the complex emotions of loving your predator, and the shock which comes with realizing what was done was abuse.  I was powerless, so were all those children, in the face of abuse perpetrated by a powerful person in our lives.

The Catholic church is powerful enough to do something about this, and has yet to fully address it. Not enough is being done to protect the congregants of the Church.

I cannot let this pass without comment.

The Daily Communiqué – 12 April, 2019 – The Coffee Break

Harold whispered through gritted teeth, “Go back to your desk!  Go! Now!” His eyes moved quickly as though watching for danger,  face screwed up in fear.

Uh oh.  It happened again.  Scurrying back to my desk, I put my hands on the computer keyboard and listened.  Who was it this time?

Somewhere on my aisle, a phone rang.  Heads popped out and made shushing motions.  One of the rules was, don’t make noise, she might hear you.  And if she heard you … better to not even consider that.

My hands fell into my lap.  I squeezed my eyes closed and tried to hold my breath.  “Not me, not me, not me,” my mind chittered nervously.

Memories of the last time popped to the surface.  I’d barely escaped, tried to cry quietly in the bathroom, great heaving sobs escaping.  It was horrible, and every day I dreaded a repeat.

I sniffed.  Cigarette smoke?  I didn’t know she … oh, that’s not good and it’s not cigarette smoke.  Crouching down, I wrapped my arms around my head. I knew everyone else was doing the same thing.  Something loud was coming …

My neighbor let out a little squeak.  I crawled across the aisle into her cube and we wrapped our arms around each other, trembling in fear.  “No, no, no, nonononono …” Opal whispered.

Leaning closer to her, I whispered in her ear, “Whose turn was it this morning?”

A tear rolled down her cheek, “Mine.  I got in late, she was here before me …”  Her face fell. We were all terrified.

The last person got fired on the spot.  The floor around them scorched from the flames coming out of the monster’s nostrils.

As the roar died down, quiet clinking came from the break room.  Glass on porcelain. A spoon stirring in liquid. The smell of coffee rose over the smell of sulphur.  Who was stupid enough to be in the break room right now?

Then, porcelain on floor tiles.  The metal of the spoon moving the liquid.  Opal and I put our heads down, our fearful tears mingling as we held our breath.

Quiet.  Slurping.  Really loud slurping.  The sound of heels moving across the floor.  The swish of clothing. A collective sigh as we all went back to work.

Crisis averted.

The Daily Communiqué – 10 April, 2019 – Art

What an interesting thing art is.  All art.  Someone thought of something and created it.  They looked around them and thought, “Hey, what if …?  Wouldn’t it be cool?  I want to try …”  And then through practicing their craft, they create the idea they had.

Sometimes I’m simply overwhelmed by the amazing things people create.  Every once in a while, amazing stuff comes out on the screen in front of me.  Words rushing out in a ethereal process which can never fully be explained, only felt and wondered at.

In the March 2019 issue of National Geographic (email subscription required) is a spread called “Conjured Clouds”  Puffs of clouds hang in the air where they normally wouldn’t be and it’s mesmerizing.

A search led me to this in Harper’s Bazaar. Four fashion icons posing with clouds. I suppose we could go deep into how ephemeral both art and fashion can be.  Maybe another time.   That’s the original book hoarder himself, Karl Lagerfeld.  (Life goals.)

The artist is Berndnaut Smilde, and he’s amazing.

Here’s another one from the same issue of National Geographic by Jodi Cobb.  It’s a reflection of Venice in the water, symbolizing her grief.

I can’t even …

The Daily Communiqué: 09 April 2019 – Music

My curiosity for music can more easily be satisfied now with technology.  I’m in love with searching through the global record collection available to anyone with the bandwidth to listen.

Here are a few I’m enjoying currently

Ash Grunwald “Money”- Aussie blues singer
I’m pretty enamored of Grunwald’s work, adding him to the heavy rotation list

Joe Bonamassa “The Ballad of John Henry”- American blues singer
It’s easy to forget just how young Bonamassa is, he’s been blues royalty for so long it seems like he should be older.

I love knowing about other creators’ process, it’s fun to watch Bonamassa in action. But watch how awkward he is without his guitar when it’s just him in singing in front of the mic.

This is a twofer, Leonard Bernstein forever won my heart with his Young People’s Concerts.   Aaron Copland was a favorite on Sunday mornings in my family.

Jamie Cullum – “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” – British jazz singer

This came up on a random playlist, and while I’m not much of a ballad/love song person, something about Cullum’s voice caught me.

Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong – American singers

What a surprise find! These two work really well together.

Amon Amarth – Swedish death metal band

I’ll end with this because it’s so delightfully bad. The instrumentals are standard metal, the leader has an incredible deep voice which he can use to great effect, but the lyrics and presentation are just so …. pedestrian.

The Daily Communiqué: 8 April 2019 – Hugos

2019 Hugo nominations have been announced.  I’m so pleased to see at least one book I’ve read, and a fanzine I know well, nominated.

WorldCon 76 was almost literally in my backyard, someone helped me decide I HAD to go, and it’s the only time (so far) I’ve been able to vote for the Hugos.

One of my favorite authors Mary Robinette Kowal, and astronaut Kjell Lindberg hosted a “Koffee Klatch” to talk about their work, and answer questions.  There were ten of us, and we were enthused about meeting them.   We learned some pretty interesting stuff about writing and being in space, and carried out a good amount of signed swag.  (Kjell even signed the inside of the Canadarm hatch door on my model shuttle.)

Since I don’t anticipate going to WorldCon 77 in Dublin, sad doesn’t begin to cover how I feel about not being able to vote for at least these two nominees.

There’s such good stuff which has been nominated, and good lord how do people read it all?  I’m still working on last year’s packet!

Being a list making/keeping type of person, it’s tempting to download the list of all Hugo winners/nominees and see how many I can read, but that way lies madness.  There are two many other books to read, my apartment would explode with that large an influx of books.

Speaking of which, Marlon JamesBlack Leopard, Red Wolf just arrived.  Here’s a great long read from The New Yorker published just before the book was published.

Part of my assigned reading for LitCrit involves N. K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth Trilogy, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and James’ book.  To bring it back to the Hugos, Jemisin won three years in a row for Broken Earth, and with as much hype as there is about Black Leopard, Red Wolf, I won’t be surprised to see it nominated for a Hugo next year.

The Daily Communiqué: 7 April 2019 – Recap Week 1

Weekly wrap …

When the idea arrived, I could barely contain my excitement.  It was scary but it just felt like a thing I was ready to do.  Basically, free write in public every day.  The story about my inspiration was the very first Daily Communiqué.  Back at my desk after lunch, the voices got to work.  You know those voices.  The ones that jabber on about how you’re just gonna fail anyway, so why bother.  Yeah, I argued with that one all afternoon.

Fortunately, I have a cheering section who told me to “do that thing!”  And here we are, at the end of the first week.  If my stats are right, people are finding and reading my pieces.  Thank you!

The Drink Tank‘s issue about Hamilton was published on Saturday. I’m excited to read what others have contributed.  Almost as excited as when I finally finished my piece.

Writing about procrastination, was a great reminder to look for ways to remedy my own.

Leadership is one of my favorite topics, mostly because I don’t understand how people can get it so soul-searingly wrong, leaving a trail of destruction behind them.

My favorite piece to write was “20 Questions,” whose inspiration came from several places.  Dinner with a friend revealed an interesting tidbit about one of the aforementioned bad leaders.  I wondered if I could tell the story by playing the game Questions, and played with the notion of Twenty Questions.  All of which proves the point inspiration comes from anywhere.

There’s plenty of inspiration for me in my email and on one of my Pinterest boards, but there’s no plan other than to write something every day.  That’s the only rule for The Daily Communiqué.  Thanks for coming along on my adventure.

 

 

The Daily Communiqué: 6 April 2019 – Questions

For Michael and Cody

20 Questions

  1. “Are you ready to hear this?”
  2. “Why do you ask silly questions?”
  3. “Guess who has a clause in their contract stating they don’t actually have to do their job?”
  4. “Are you kidding me?”
  5. “Why would I do that?”
  6. “Who else knows?”
  7. “Do I look like Information Central?”
  8. “Is this why the budget’s shot?”
  9. “Is the budget shot?”
  10. “Are people lying about the budget?”
  11. “Are they telling the truth?”
  12. “What’s being done?”
  13. “About which?”
  14. “Can’t they be fed to the dragon?”
  15. “Which dragon?”
  16. “Won’t the Regents do anything?”
  17. “Who do you think approved the clause?”
  18. “Shouldn’t we ride out and warn others?”
  19. “Against what?”
  20. “Why are people so stupid?”

The Daily Communiqué: 5 April 2019 – Leadership

Trust …

Hat tip to Hugh MacLeod and Gaping Void Art, I’ve been a fan for years and find his advice on leadership to be common sense.

Positive Relationships. Trust is in part based on the extent to which a leader is able to create positive relationships with other people and groups.

Good Judgement/Expertise. … the extent to which a leader is well-informed and knowledgeable. They must understand the technical aspects of the work as well as have a depth of experience.

Consistency. … the extent to which leaders walk their talk and do what they say they will do.

(Zenger, J. and Folkman, J. (2019). The 3 Elements of Trust. Harvard Business Review. [online] Available at: https://hbr.org/2019/02/the-3-elements-of-trust [Accessed 1 Apr. 2019])

And lord, how many jobs have I had where no one, not one executive or manager understood these three basic tenets of good leadership.  It always frustrated me that at the lowest end of the totem pole possible, I knew more about leadership than anyone running the company did.

I have watched institutions, big and small, fall completely apart because leadership didn’t understand how to  use the Golden Rule.  To start with.

As a temp, and sadly, as a woman, I’ve been witness to more sexism and classism I ever thought possible.  Because, c’mon I’m educated and smart, I work hard and get the job done.  Over the years, my radar has become very finely tuned and can pick up micro-aggressions from across the building.

Most of my life, I’ve been like the canary in the coal mine. I saw it coming but was powerless to do anything about it.  Pointing out the flaw in the system was usually dismissed until months later, the problem got too big to ignore.  I’m over thinking, “If people would just listen to me …”  But I’m just sayin’.

It’s not hard to gain an employees’ trust, if a leader is doing their job right.  At a month into my latest day job, I trust them to do right by me.  Because they’ve already shown me they know how to be a leader.  The company is enormous and, granted, I have purposely stuck my head in the sand because I’m just tired of playing, but this company does things well.

As a contractor, I expected to be left out, for people not to remember my name or even be willing to acknowledge my presence.  None of it’s happened.  One executive walks through our area every morning greeting us by name, me included.  Another manager makes sure the snack drawers are loaded and sets up the monthly birthday potlucks.  And make sure to include me.

Cynicism in the workplace has become my go to strategy.  That way I’m not hurt or surprised if someone looks right through me because I’m a temp or contractor.  It’s happened.  More than once.

At first I would get all tangled up and hurt but I’ve moved on.  Because what kind of person are you that you stand right in front of someone and completely ignore them while introducing yourself to the person sitting at the table next to them?  I’m certainly not the asshole in this scenario.

(Did I tell you the one about being denied access to the extra food which was going to go to waste because I was a temp?  True story.)

Oh, and I have a long memory.  There’s a list several miles long of people I will never work with again, ever.  As a potential leader, I have learned great lessons on what not to do.

If a leader doesn’t treat their staff with respect, asking questions as they go along, the staff will never return that respect.  And when crunch time comes, they won’t be motivated to go all in to get the job done.

Probably the worst thing is working for people who have no idea what my job is, how it’s done and what I need to get it done right.   At one job, the first week my new manager started, I asked to schedule 1:1s, because I had a lot of questions and we needed to start setting policies.  He blew me off.  Completely.  In his first week as a new manager with a staff of one, he blew that one off.

So, of course, as I continued to fumble along things went horribly awry.  I had no back up, no one to turn to, and was set up for failure.  The shocking thing is how common this is, across industries in companies small and big.

Over 30 years in Silicon Valley and I could tell stories that would make people weep.  I probably have.  And it’s so freaking simple.  Walk around, introduce yourself (or reintroduce yourself), make yourself available.  And show your staff that if you don’t know about their job, you want to learn.  Take 15 minutes every week just to walk past and offer your hand, “How can I be of service to you?”

Don’t wait for the bullies to come knocking and watch a major blowup happen to one of your staff members.  (Yeah, that happened too.)  Set your entire group up to succeed.  Lead by example, show them you’re not too good to get in the trenches with them if necessary.

And my goodness, praise them.  Thank them  for their hard work.  Regularly.  Don’t save it for meetings.  Walk into someone’s cubicle and tell them how much you appreciate their work.  Bring lunch in and sit at the table with them.  And listen when they talk.  Listen to what they have to say, don’t just wait for your turn to talk.

Good leadership isn’t hard.  It shouldn’t be and makes me more than a little grouchy when I see how badly people botch it.