I woke up in a strange place

By Marc Heiden, since 1997.
See also: a novel about a monkey.

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February 10, 2005

Let me briefly explain the circumstances that led to my silence. I started a new job, temporary but indefinite, working on a two-man Project. One of the two people was responsible for training me, and the other was intended to take the lead once she was gone. The Project is nebulous, with many regulations and procedures, pockets of arcana in scattered locations. Well, fine, I thought. I am just the sort of man you want to deal with that. But my training was about 30% complete when the first day was over and my predecessor left. Then the second team member called in sick, leaving me alone to attempt to make sense of things. Then he called in sick again. Then they fired him, leaving me alone on the Project. In an attempt to make good, they brought in someone to take his place and asked me to train the new guy, mid-way through my own first week, with none of my own questions answered. The new guy arrived and, upon first glimpse of the Project, more or less shut down. He will only handle simple tasks as I assign them to him. I am alone at the front of the Project. I do not fully understand it, but I must manage it as best I can. I am, at times, overwhelmed. I try to visualize a game of whack-a-mole to give order to what I am doing, but frequently the vision changes to one of a dark chamber, with tentacles emerging from the holes in the box, rising until the box can no longer hold the writhing mass within - the only thing that never changes is that I am still holding the same foam mallet, ill-equipped. That is the nature of what I face. This is the first quiet moment I have had to gather my thoughts about the Project, so it is now that I am writing, after all of that silence.

It pays okay, but I probably gotta get some more money at some point.

North Korea announced that they have nuclear bombs today. The first AP article that I read this morning mentioned that Bush had referred to them as part of the Axis of Evil as part of an attempt to get them to cooperate, but later drafts appear to have clarified that he hasn't called them Evil lately and that was the attempt to get them to cooperate. Which makes a bit more sense, although it is still based on flawed reasoning. Generally, in situations where I have told someone that they are evil, I have not had a good reaction from them, even after initiating another conversation wherein I do not make explicit reference to their evil; moreover, in situations where I have told someone that they are evil and that the guy standing next to them is evil, too, and then I have punched the guy standing next to them in the face, I have received extremely poor reactions. I can assure the Bush administration that my clinical trials on this issue were performed with the greatest attention to scientific integrity. I don't know if they will look upon that as a positive, though.

It makes me feel bad for the Japanese, though. They are very nervous about North Korea. An old English teacher told me once about how students would always say they were afraid of going to the beach because North Korean submarines would get them, and the English teachers would make fun of the students, making all sorts of hilarious riffs in the teachers room. Apparently, everyone felt pretty bad when those fears turned out to be well-grounded. I wasn't there at the time, so I was permitted the righteousness of the recent, which is always nice.

Let me describe a little bit more about what we do at the Project. I gave my co-worker a list of people to contact about some classes they had been taking. He went through the list and complained.

"I don't want to contact her," he said. "She failed this Conflict Resolution class she took."
"The conflict must still be raging," I agreed. "No way to know what you'll be walking into."
"I can't send her an email either," he said. "She also failed Principles of Effective Written Communication."
"She'll probably just hit a lot of random keys and then call you a dick," I said. "Well, do your best."

I moved into my new apartment last week. It is a very nice one bedroom apartment in Chicago, in the neighborhood that they call Ukrainian Village. By the time I left Japan, my spatial schema had been re-adjusted to the point where I found shoeboxes perfectly acceptable and always remembered to keep my head down when going through doorways, so my new apartment has what appear to me as vast, untamed areas of wilderness and ceilings that must scrape the very surface of the stars, even though I can clearly hear some guy walking around on the third floor. (Is he God?) But this is America, and we must have places to put the things we are surely going to buy. I am happy in my new apartment. It is relaxing and peaceful there, and I can afford the rent, at least so far.

My birthday is on a Saturday this year (February 19th), which is really more pressure than I am prepared to handle right now.

Oof! Back to work.

I woke up in a strange place is the work of Marc Heiden, born in 1978, author of two books (Chicago, Hiroshima) and some plays, and an occasional photographer.

Often discussed:

Antarctica, Beelzetron, Books, Chicago, College, Communism, Food, Internet, Japan, Manute Bol, Monkeys and Apes, North Korea, Oregon Trail, Outer Space, Panda Porn, Politics, RabbiTech, Shakespeare, Sports, Texas.


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Written by Marc Heiden, 1997-2011.