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Last month, I mentioned that I’d once again been in the hot seat, interviewing for a new position at my firm. During the intervening weeks, it has been a situation of “hurry up and wait.” First, the supervisor was on vacation, then they had to interview more people. Then the supervisor took another week off (hey, it’s summer and, you know, kids), and then they had one more interview to do.

Two weeks ago, though, HR called and said they wanted to move forward with my application. That meant checking my references, and that meant talking to my current manager.

“He’s on vacation,” I said, “and really, I’ve only been with him for a couple of weeks, so maybe you should talk to my previous manager.”

Nope. Gotta talk to the one currently in charge.

More waiting. Continue Reading »

Kurt R.A. GiambastianiAugust, without a doubt, is my least favorite month. It’s when the garden starts to pant and parch, spiders build massive obstacle courses in the yard, fruit goes from unripe green to fuzzy grey within minutes, and wildfire smoke descends to choke our skies, our lungs, our eyes.

And this August, it’s also when a “great” idea for a bit of topical poetry falls totally flat. Continue Reading »

No Safe Harbor

I have relatives who are racists.

There. I said it.

It’s true. I have, in my extended family, people who are racist. More than that, one in particular is undoubtedly a white nationalist (my label, definitely not hers). I wouldn’t go so far as to call her a white supremacist, but that’s only because she’s too lazy to get that involved. Were she younger, healthier, and possessed of a little more disposable income, oh yeah, she would have been marching down the streets of Charlottesville, torch in hand, chanting vile slogans.

Immigrants. Democrats. Liberals. Jews. Muslims. Mexicans. Blacks. The poor.

AOC. Bernie. Chuck. Hillary. And the King of the Leftist Hill: Obama. Continue Reading »

This Tuesday last, my wife and I celebrated our thirty-sixth wedding anniversary. While we definitely hit some bumps along the way, we’re both very glad that we married and that we stayed together.

Not everyone is a fan of marriage. Back when I still went out a-courting, the anti-marriage refrain was usually “It’s just a piece of paper!”, with second place awarded to those who derided marriage as a patriarchal institution designed to keep women subservient and disempowered. The latter opinion may have been true at one time, but I would argue that marriage today actually provides women with more power, rather than less. As for it being “just a piece of paper,” well, that’s never been true, and in fact, the piece of paper is the least important thing about a marriage. Continue Reading »

On long winter nights, there is a wall that sings, quiet and low, as if to itself alone.

It stands beyond my sleeping, snow-mantled garden, an ancient guarding the limits of my land, gap-toothed, slope-shouldered, its windward side rough with scree, cragged and worn by storm-fed furies, by blistering sun, by generations’ neglect.

Once, it had been naught but an idea, a homesteader’s dreamed-of bulwark against the forever wind until, with stinging sweat and stone-torn fingers, the imagined was made real and the builder stood back to see it, whole, strong, chest-high, stone nested tight upon stone, snug in haphazard uniformity.

But Autumn’s rains sluiced through unmortared cracks, and Winter’s glass prised fissures open; Spring brought seeds to lodge and widen each minuscule flaw with root and tendril, until Summer’s hearth-eye withered flower and stem alike, reducing them to dust, leaving paths for ant, beetle, and mouse, to enlarge, improve, extend.

And so it went as lifetimes passed, as children were born and grew tall, as owners lived, flourished, and bequeathed this home, this garden, to new custodians until tonight, this night, as the clouds lour down from above, as pale patches of snow lie recumbent beneath the gloom, as the ice-sharp wind soughs and sighs through every crack, every gap, every hole the years have bestowed, transforming the stones into a zephyrean choir, and the night-shrouded garden fills with the wall’s song, a song of patience, a song of years, of cloistered nights and brazen days, of climbing children and creeping vines, of a life spent in somnolent solitude, a discordant moan-filled yearning for sunshine, warmth, and vernal rebirth.

On long winter nights, there is a wall that sings.

Quiet and low, it sings, as if to itself alone.

But I hear it. I hear it plain.

k

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

That was interesting.

It is an ill-kept secret that I’ve been rather . . . unhappy . . . with aspects of my day-job*. Over the past two decades, the IT Industry, with its massive post-Y2K expansion and its penchant for constant retooling in both technology and methodology, has become the textbook definition of “churn.” It’s the poster child for the “Oh, look, a squirrel!” syndrome. I mean, how can any industry work efficiently when it spends a quarter or even a third of its resources just converting from one tool to the next?

Because of this, my enthusiasm for seeking a different post within the IT conclave has been stupendously lackluster. Leaving my current company—with my 5 weeks’ vacation and seniority—for a new firm that likely has just as much dysfunction as mine (with a possible side dish of crazy), well, it’s hard to get excited about that. Continue Reading »

If I were to have followed the standard advice of “write what you know” (meaning only write from personal experience), then none of my books would ever have come into being. I would never have written about anything historical (how could I, if I was born in 19-hrmahrm?), or about anything set in Brittany, or certainly I could never ever have written anything to do with dinosaurs (who could?).

The only book I’ve written that had a shred of “what I know”ishness to it is Dreams of the Desert Wind. The setting was a place I lived in for a time (Jerusalem) and I drew on a lot of personal experience for descriptions of the street scenes (like the one mentioned here, with “Samovar Man“).

No, when I started writing, if I’d written only what I knew, then I’d have written a book about working in IT (now there’s a page-turner), or something set in the world of classical music. Continue Reading »

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