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Friday, June 28, 2013

Barking Dogs

Having been out of the writing habit for a while, it's a challenge to remind myself to sit down to record the day's doings.  Plus, this last week has been nuts, with work occupying more than 10 hours of each day.  This house is in a nice neighborhood in Bethesda, but the owner, who at 86 is on husband #4 (having outlived the previous three), did not leave us the creme de la creme of her possessions.  We rightly insisted, upon reconsideration of the contents (my boss had first agreed to do the sale over a year ago, and we were a little nonplussed when we were shown around three weeks ago and found much less in the house than we had been led to expect), that we needed a 40% cut rather than our standard 30%, because there was so much of small and little value through which we had to sort in order to do our usual unusually organized job.  There were some treasures we discovered--some rare books, nice carpets, shiny copper cookware, and a stack of silver dollars--but most of the items in the house are fairly humdrum.

I had never heard of St. John's suits before working with the estate sale company.  I doubt they are popular elsewhere, at least apart from the octagenarian socialite set.  They are basically obscenely overpriced knitwear in matronly patterns.  This lady also had a large collection of Ferragamo shoes.  But they, like the St. John's suits, are in styles that are too old to be in style, but insufficiently old to be vintage, which makes reselling them a challenge.  Our colleague who would have blitzed through the clothing in no time was out of town this week, leaving the rest of the team to struggle through the mass without her. Hence the long hours and the frustration.  And my former Yugoslav coworker, though a vigorous and relentlessly dedicated person, who gets tasks done efficiently and accurately, is also one of the most caustic and negative individuals I've ever had to deal with, and that would be exhausting even if our schedule of late weren't.  She seems to be getting more and more bitter, always shouting (in one or another of the six languages she speaks fluently) about some crisis or insult or indignity she has suffered.  "Fucking assholes" is one of her favorite expletives, and you'd think repeating it was her mantra for happiness and wealth.  It's like a venoumous snake at the heart of our operation, and her complaints are coloring everyone's attitude.

I have applied for two full-time jobs in the last two weeks, in spite of the hectic level of my work schedule.  Both are federal positions.  It's an entire evening's labor to apply, even when one doesn't compose a cover letter.  There are keywords to be inserted in the resume, and KSA's to be listed.  And every government agency has its own little questionaire.  I really want to have a peaceful, steady job.  When I went back home to GA two weeks ago, for the first time I was tempted simply to stay, although I have only one friend in Augusta anymore, and my mother is getting ready to rent out her townhouse.  It was so quiet there, and I didn't have to be quiet about being a conservative.  My coworkers and I don't talk about politics, but their world views are fundamentally different from mine, as evidenced from remarks they make about homosexual marriage and abortion rights.  And there is always an ambient noise of vehicular traffic here.  I hate to admit I am getting old, but there is something about being home, not that I think anywhere on earth is the perfect environment.  I have been thinking a lot about St. Paul's teaching to "aspire to a quiet life".  I do want fame and fortune (I've dreamed of being a best-selling novelist since I read The Black Stallion in second grade), but comparing myself to others is neither right nor healthy, and being content in relative obscurity, and able to serve others, can be a holy calling.  Is it mine?

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