Tuesday, July 20, 2010


One of the more challenging (and vexing) duties of  a manager is to balance the needs of the organization vs the needs of its productive workers. The vexing part was always why I avoided leadership roles like the plague. I didn't want to have any kind of responsibility because (and I saw this in a movie once) being "responsible" was "being the guy everyone else blamed" if things went south.

Where I live, things are often expected to go south:  traffic laws are routinely broken, socks are mismatched, zippers break at embarrassingly crucial times, someone else has gotten to your food or bonus long before you were supposed to. These Islands are Third World after all.  I knew from the get-go that the prospects for failure are often more likely than those for success. It followed that being "responsible" was (to my seven-year-old brain) something thankless and futile and generally not worth trying.

Someone should have told me back then that responsible people got things done in spite of the likelihood of failure, and that not all failures were catastrophic. Maybe I wouldn't have been so afraid to take choice jobs or responsibilities when they were presented to me.

Now, I'm responsible for the well-being of half the teaching staff at my place of work. I've had to make decisions that are neither completely kosher with upper management nor satisfying to the people in my care. I must proceed with tact, with wisdom, with other qualities not traditionally associated with me. 

I can appreciate the irony of being in a management position where lots of things can potentially go south. 

C'est la vie.  


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Belated Goodbye to Camelot

Actually it's a belated goodbye to "Gwen"-- not that it should matter to her. There were still some things left unsaid when I was, all of a sudden, unreachable. I'll say them now.

You have "Arthur" and I'm no longer the kind of guy who'll put himself in between two people who care very much for each other. Having a wife stolen out from under me  does not do wonders for the ego, and I had no desire to put you and Arthur through that ordeal. I have no stomach to dish out the kind of testing-by-fire that God seems to mete so callously and haphazardly.

Perhaps I... should have endeavored to meet you a year ago, but I was obviously preoccupied. I would not have known you for the wondrous, terribly sweet and caring person that you are.

At any rate, having known you now, I would have followed you anywhere, Arthur or no Arthur. And I did, all the way to Camelot, where I served as one of your mercenaries of literacy. For a time, I was probably your best knight.

Here's a tip about myself: it's generally not money that keeps me tethered to someone's employ. I've been known to throw my life away on a fool's quest because I cherished the feeling I got when someone smiled at me. I've been known to spend long hours in the field because someone's kerchief was tied to my shoulder.

It's who I am.

It is also who I'm not appreciated for. Nobody really likes a man whose eyes follow and drink your every movement down to the very dregs. Nobody really adores the people who adore them.

I've gotten much older than I've had to be in this department, Gwen. I no longer have the staying power to remain fool-hardy.You obviously can't give me what I need  and it upsets me that I feel you've shut me out before I ever got the chance to ask. I would have been happy with simple talk: you always made a four-letter word fall sweetly on the ears.

There was no more reason for me to stay on in Camelot, was no other logical course of action available but to wish you all well, to pack up my Lance and leave.

If I'd a dollar for all the times I've had to say this I'd be rich:

I wish you every happiness. I wish you and Arthur every joy.  

I say it ruefully, but I truly mean it.

In case you throw my letter away, (and you will).

I've often thought of letters as successful only in two things: expressing sentiment and saying goodbye. This is partly why I've been stymied for pretty much the last two years. Everybody tells me I write eloquently, passionately, powerfully, lovingly. But who am I kidding? Against the weight of my sin against you-- which you can neither forgive nor forget-- any missive of mine, indeed any attempt of mine to reach you is anathema to you and ultimately useless to me.

Letters don't really move people-- how many times have you seen a letter move a government? How many times have you seen a love letter really move people? It hasn't moved you and I have long stopped expecting any future missive to do so.

This isn't my core message. As I write, I'm angry and I'm sad and I don't know how objective I can be despite my best efforts. Stupidity is banging your head on the same wall hoping that the next attempt will not end in bits of broken skull, blood, matted hair and a broken face. When the matter is you, though, I excel at being stupid.

In all my drafts I'd wanted to just say that I loved you, needed you. That I was sorry. And that I do not want to say goodbye. We've seen too much together, done too much together. We've made love forgodssakes, or close enough to it, though I didn't want to call it that before. More than any ache in the loins I feel the loss of you every day.

Concurrent with that feeling of loss, Tin, is an outraged sense of futility, of terrible crippling sadness, the fear that I will never again see your face. Your voice, the smell of your hair, your caresses may belong to someone else now.

I love you. 

I do not want to say goodbye.   

october-december 2009 -january-february 2010