Saturday, October 1, 2011

Scenes from the last few weeks

I'm reading Marquez, 100 Years of Solitude…..‘Time put things in their place.’

It’s Shofar time, Days of Awe, time for renewal, changing of seasons, back to school, end of baseball season, beginning of new year, reflect, get right with the universe and all the rest...

I'm growing into a new job/role as dean, administrator, with few carrots and sticks, but power of connection and communication. The task calls on talents, skills and abilities that are surfacing or below the surface, to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty, to let it go, to focus on big picture while getting caught in the details, and to manage the humanness of The Learning Factory. Who are these people who stand in line to pay for their education? Why don’t they pay on line with a credit card? Because they can’t! Because they live on the margins of the society, not mainstreamed into jobs, careers, home and family financial equity, and they believe that the college will help plug them into that network. These are who the institution serves, and will serve, in 20/20. We need to focus on them, organize our systems, delivery, content and network on them, and will be successful to the extent that we can bring resources and opportunity (how to plug into the network) to them, while our resources continue to contract.

At end of summer, served on Seattle Municipal Court jury duty, and so spent several days commuting to downtown and to magnificent facility for jurors, with spectacular views of Elliott Bay and Seattle. But, very odd, telling and even emotional to be there downtown, to walk where I first came to Seattle, to walk by MORS, now completely changed, no more mezzanine where I landed after bailing on First Hill, such a sense of passage of time, and having that in the distant rear view mirror, first showing up for interviews with Clute, Carey, and later, Sheeley, Carriveau, Maguire, and others, square peg and round hole stuff, "A kind of idiocy that had no past," and instead now grateful for being with ‘those in line who are not mainstreamed,’ and those who help them.

Sure, I missed going to lunch at Three Girls (it's not as good as when Jack and Zelda made the sandwiches!) with fellow bankers Chamberlin, Politakis, from Central Branch, or even from 5th and Union, but that was so long ago, and a little Googling to see what they are up to (still taking care of the wealthy, privileged, selfish and narrow-minded), and nah, no real need to get together and catch up. Time marches on, evolves, and much healthier, albeit older and wiser, perhaps.

Being downtown and a public transit user for a bit, I noticed that many, many of the fellow travelers watched their handhelds, listened to their pods, talked on their phones, and ignored or pretended to, their surroundings. On the bus, in the buildings, on the street, in the Bus Tunnel, in their cars, at their desks, everyone seemed to be plugged in to their iPhones, iPads, Kindles, Nooks, other Smart Phones, and distracted from the immediate world and the people around them, They wore their Muni Faces on and kept silent as a result. Are we that fragmented? Are we that distant? Are the barriers up that high?

Audrey, a sweet old dog who became a strong part of our family, protected us from intruders and passers by, who learned to make a beeline for those at the Dog Park with treats, and who was on a never-ending quest for the tennis ball (and usually found one in the bushes!)

Here’s how I told the family…

‘We had to put Audrey down this evening. When I took her and Brownie for their walk at the dog park this afternoon, Audrey was not able to keep up nor to make it more than halfway to the lake. Her breathing was labored and she was very tired. At home, she wouldn't eat.

When we got to the Vet, they immediately gave her oxygen and medication, diagnosed her with congestive heart failure and probable pneumonia, and suggested that the best thing for her was to put her down, rather than start an extensive medical intervention with limited chances to make her feel better. I was with Audrey the whole time.

Needless to say, we are sad and it's a little quieter here. Plus there are all these tennis balls around the house and in the garage.

Auntie Susan and I talked, and she was quite upset, but thanked us for taking care of Audrey and welcoming her into our home. ‘

But, more needs to be written. When it came time to do the deed, the nurse brought Audrey into a small room with a metal table, and laid her down. The pup had oxygen from a tube, but was clearly anxious, struggling and in distress. I put my hand on her head, spoke to her, stroked her face, and tried to speak reassurance and comfort, and kept my hand on her as the doctor administered the drug, injected her with the poison through the IV, gave her the calming medicine, how do you describe what they did? Put her down? Killed her? Put her out of her misery? Ended her suffering? Or just, the medicine entered her body, and the anxiousness ebbed, the struggling quickly stopped, and the distress ended. She was something, breathing, panting really, nervous, and not happy, and then that was over, and she was for the ages, with the Angels, with Tony as he lay there in his suit and tie, like he was ready to go to Temple Hollywood, and she was no more. An absence of life is death. The doctor said, ‘She’s gone.’ And she was. Still warm, but still.

I left the room quickly, thanking the staff for their kindness, but was not prepared for the emotion that swept over me. I remembered the paw print, and returned to the desk, where the nurse told me she was sorry and then said that it would be in the mail. The Print is here, and I’ll take it to Susan. Then the Doctor came out with Audrey’s collar and tags, gave it to me, and then followed with a much-needed hug. I said, “Life is precious,” She said, “And, it has to end.”

And life needs affirmation. It needs the dinner at the Greek Festival, once a year at this time, seeing new and old friends, listening to the loud music, feeling the first of Autumn. It needs the return of students and faculty to TLF, to get on with helping those in the payment line. It needs the end of the baseball season, the last trip to Safeco to watch them play out the string, a long, long season that began for me in the desert with Brad, “Willie Mays picked up the baseballs, and he’s in the Hall of Fame!” Killebrew, Kershaw, Lincecum and Huff, Ichiro, it just continues and is a constant. And, a thing of beauty, grace, silliness and the serious and solemn. Wait until next year, again. But, pleased to do so. Maybe life has to end, and it does, but maybe it goes on as well, and what we do is move it a little farther along, better for those around us, especially if we unplug the headphones and look up and talk to those around us and help make better connections to each other and the Big Network.

1 comment:

susan said...

ah andy
how fortunate to be on the planet with you.
and how lucky those kids are to haev you looking for the network and offering your heart along with your connections.. much love much
and thanks and
all the rest