Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Cornflowers & Queen Anne's Lace

We had clouds today, but the weather continued extraordinarily comfortable, which made strolling through Georgetown under the lush trees thoroughly pleasant. I met up with a German friend of mine, who has been handsomely, if inexplicably, pensioned off by her husband of a score years, and will be officially divorced in a month. Her only child is departing for college in just a few weeks, and she will be alone for the first time in decades. Happily, she does have a support group at her church that has been helpful in working through the considerable emotional turmoil--though she has always put on a calm front to me and others, she did admit that she'd cried a great deal over this event which "did not fit in with [her] plans."  I admit to being more than a little puzzled as to why her husband, with whom she coexisted peaceably and to all appearances happily, should want to part with her.  It's not like there's a romantic third party, financial strain, physical disability, or any other elements which most commonly contribute to spousal separation.  She asked me over a very good Thai lunch if I were interested in moving into her downstairs apartment, rent-free--she'd like to have someone else around.  I told her I was comfortable where I was for now, but would consider it.  Her house is lovely, but alarmingly neat.  I don't know that someone like me, around whom clutter collects like lint on a chamois cloth, would make a good housemate for her.

Some of my favorite flowers are weeds.  Dandelions, cornflowers and Queen Anne's Lace are such happy spots of color and texture along the roadsides around here, dancing up daintily amidst bits of broken glass, gravel and grit on the medians of busy roads and popping pluckily through cracks in the highway masonry.  I remember one summer evening when I was three or four, when we were living in North Carolina while my father did his anesthesia residency, walking along our poorly-paved street with my parents, looking at the grasses growing wild on the verge. I was the height of the Queen Anne's Lace, and I was entranced by the tracery of white flowers across its coaster-size surface.  I don't recall if that was the same evening that either Mommy or Daddy or the both of them demonstrated the technique of sipping the nectar out of a honeysuckle blossom, but that was a magical summer altogether.  Daddy showed me how to lay bathroom tile, the sump pump in the basement failed (and I developed an antipathy for the damp, unlit version), I went over to a friend's house by myself for the first time (and gave her mother directions back--I remember she was impressed I knew which turns to make all the way home), I saw the animated 101 Dalmatians for the first time at a theater with brass chandeliers and red carpet in the foyer, and my mother got me and my sister a bag of chocolate gelt for waiting in the car by ourselves while she went in to the drycleaners (which was next to a manufacturing plant with a big smokestack). I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday--well, I can if I sit and think about it for a minute--but these sensual images from preschool are branded into my brain.  I would love to have a house with antique-style floral metal chandelier in a sunroom, where I can have plants that can stand up to the neglect I will doubtless inflict on them and still seem healthy.  Thus far, I have kept my two jade plants and my African violet alive here at Susan and Steven's, but I am soon going to have to figure out a safe place to keep them, out of the reach of a quickly-mobilizing Theo. 

I applied for three more jobs two days ago, as I keep getting almost mocking emails from the USAjobs website, telling me repeatedly that though I was deemed eligible for the positions for which I applied, I was not referred to the interviewers because eligible veterans with preference points were lined up ahead of me.  Argh!  Being the great-great-granddaughter, granddaughter, daughter and sister of veterans, I do support those who are serving and have served, and I certainly want to make sure that folks who lost limbs or whatnot in the line of duty get a leg up (no pun meant) when it comes to making sure they don't face discrimination because of their disablement.  But Steven has told me that most ordinary grunts don't qualify for the regular veteran's points (though they may for the disability points).  So, in other words, I am mainly competing against people who are already drawing a decent (though perhaps not overgenerous) government pension, who are applying to work at another government job, and they are getting jumped up the line ahead of regular, otherwise indigent, mutts like me who are otherwise perfectly capable, and might actually be better in the positions because we wouldn't be perpetrating the good ol' boy mentality.

After World War II and 11 years in the navy, my granddaddy really couldn't find a job which suited him until he got on with the Veterans Administration as the physical plant manager at a VA hospital, a role which he filled ably for the next 30+ years. He didn't get official veteran's points in the hiring process, though--the interviewer was impressed by his service record, and that helped to get him the job, but there was no built-in bias keeping others from even being interviewed.  It seems to me that, apart from the disability points, the current veterans points program is silly and should be abolished. People who are good at keeping in touch with folks they met while in the military--particularly the higher-ranking individuals who are the ones who currently benefit unfairly from the program--won't have any difficulty leveraging these connections to aid them in the job-hunting process anyway.  Too, it would give those of us who haven't been able to serve our country by joining national defense forces a means of competing on a level playing field for an opportunity to work for it in other ways.

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