Category: Work

Daily new cases as of 3-20-2020

Changes

For the first two months of 2020, I was burning the candle at both ends, and then cutting the candle in half and burning both of those ends. I use this very specific, vivid, and slightly awkward yet humorous metaphor to describe my time engaging in an intense and focused job search while also working full time—and trying to find time to help plan a move for me, Dawn, the cats, and our stuff from San Francisco to Wisconsin.

And that effort paid off. On March 3rd, I got the call I wanted: a job offer from my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Starting April 22nd, I will be a Strategic Communications Specialist within UW-Madison’s office of University Communications. Dawn and I had been planning to move to Madison in April whether or not I got a job, but this makes it far more possible—especially now.

Because, of course, the context today, March 20th, is worlds away from the context of March 3rd and pretty much each of the individual days since. We’ve seen huge increases in COVID-19 infections and deaths worldwide, voluntary self-quarantines, the physical closing of non-essential businesses, most of the rest of us working from home (including my future co-workers at the UW), orders to shelter in place at the city and state levels, hospitals running out of supplies and having to make terrible no-win decisions. We live in a new world that is changing by the minute, and we have only vague ideas about our future course—aside from the almost certain fact that millions of people will die from COVID-19.

I don’t even know how to describe witnessing a pandemic unfold in real time. It makes you rethink everything you’ve valued and failed to value. It certainly reinforces my opinions of capitalism and plutocracy. I can’t help but think about, and worry about, our family and our friends, their health, the health of all their loved ones, and the tragic and profound losses we’re seeing worldwide in every facet of life.

My and Dawn’s continued health seems good as we take it slow and easy. I’m grateful (and lucky) that my soon-to-be new job is with a state university and not a more precarious organization. They made the offer, they need me and my skills as much as ever, and the hiring process continues to move forward.

There will be all kinds of unpredictable side effects of this crisis. One somewhat random one: right now, I’m not at all inclined toward comparison shopping. If a mover or an apartment rental company is willing to engage with us now, and the price point is reasonable, I want to give them our business and not waste anyone’s time. They need to make a living and we need to get there. So far they seem to very much want our business and that’s a relief. The possibility of not getting to move when we planned has been one of my immediate worries since this thing started.

I was hired to work to promote the Strategic Partnerships unit (which does federal, state, tribal, community, and business relations). Right now, it sounds like my team is doing crisis communications more than anything else, which I’d be happy to help with. I love jumping in and doing what’s most needed. No matter what, I am excited to work for my alma mater in a role that fits my strengths and in which I’ll be able to actively build meaningful connections between UW-Madison and the larger community.

For her part, Dawn will be leaving the VA and opening up a brand-new private psychotherapy and training practice, and will be available for tele-mental health referrals later on this spring.

In this last year, Dawn and I have been thinking and talking a lot about our lives and the direction we’re going. Losing my mom last February drove home the point that we want to prioritize family more than we have. We have also faced the fact that—even on one federal salary and one non-profit salary—we will simply never be able to have a better place to live in the Bay Area than our one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, under current conditions.

These are the main reasons we’re picking up these roots and moving them to Madison. (Back home to Madison, in my case—after 20 years.) We’d been incredibly excited about a new adventure and a different pace of life. We still are. Now we just have to wait a little longer for some of the things that we were excited about, and that’s okay.

So many of the things that were planned in the old world are going to suffer drastically. One of my good friends just lost his mom this week. The fact that he won’t get to gather with friends and relatives young and old, the way I and my family did last February, seems to me like it would compound the sense of loss. The associated expressions of love and connection and sense of closure (to the extent that it is attainable) will have to be deferred and/or happen some other way. One of Dawn’s former trainees was going to have a wedding this spring. It’s not going to happen the way they planned.

I’m grateful for many things in my life. Now I’m grateful for a whole new set of things I never realized I took for granted. Having a wedding with 80 guests. Having a celebration of life for my mom. Not being sick.

More to come.

Haven’t been here in a while

As always, I have a couple draft posts floating around from six months ago, about politics and television, that aren’t really finished enough thoughts to publish.

But as the end of another year approaches, I feel the pull to be both more introspective and more extroverted that having a blog tends to create. I’m guessing that happens more frequently if you actually care about keeping it up to date. Publishing, I imagine, is self-reinforcing.

This year, things really changed for me in terms of work, one area that was very, very stable — some might say stagnant — from 2002 to the middle of 2016. On the one hand, I am doing many of the things I have been doing for the last dozen years in non-profit communications (which I like to think I’m good at). On the other hand, I am now at a new organization: Pacific Forest Trust, a land trust and policy organization based in the beautiful Presidio of San Francisco, and I am their Communications Manager.

I am really happy to have landed there in August. I get to do the things I like to do: manage projects, run websites, write, design, persuade, grow an organization. I’m excited about the resources I have there — really smart and passionate co-workers, a well-defined and complex mission, a history of incredibly impressive successes — and now all I have to do is let more people know about us and get them to care about what we’re doing. I feel great about what I’ve done so far and how integrated I already feel into the organization, and I’m excited about what I’ll be able to accomplish in 2018.

Thankfully, things have been good at home. Though we’ve had some family (including pet) health issues this year, Dawn and I wind up 2017 happy and healthy, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saving the world, whatever that means

While I’m not blogging or anything, go ahead and read this post detailing The Top Root Causes of Everything Wrong With the World. Let me know what you find out. That is an early entry on a blog I probably want to read. I’m noting it here so that it will enter my consciousness every time I check to see whether or not I’ve posted a blog entry lately [I haven’t]).

I have been commenting on other websites a lot lately, which strikes me as, if not stupid per se, then at best wasted energy. Why should I provide my awesome content and insights to other websites, when I have one right here dying from lack of care and feeding? There is no good reason save sheer laziness. (I think there are other, bad reasons, though.)

Good old King Kaufman got me going on a bunch of tangents tonight by listing a few bloggers he liked a lot. That distracted me from my main task of the moment, which is (shh!) updating my online portfolio. Not just updating it — completely creating a new one almost entirely from scratch, since my current portfolio site was designed sometime around 2001 or 2002 and was last updated in 2004. Now that it’s “time for a change” (imagine me saying that in my best Bill Clinton voice), a new portfolio is due.

items of significance

Happy Flag Day! Happy Boy George’s birthday (he’s 44).

Al Franken Nails Bill O’Reilly, Again—really just a perfect example of how egregious Fox News is, as if we didn’t already know.

In other news, as of Saturday, it’s official: This is my last month of canvassing. My web site and communications work at CLCV will now be full-time rather than half-time, and I leave the membership department after 2 years of phone prospecting and about 9 months of renewing current members. I can’t believe I lasted that long as a canvasser. It’s a tough job. I’m pretty excited about the change, because I’ll have a chance to accomplish even more.

recent photos

This guy is doing amazing work: Joshua Micah Marshall’s Talking Points Memo.

Cheesy but good: Visualize winning.

Later in this post: some photos. They’re nice. See them by following this link:

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