Pic of the Day


Moment of Zen: Olympics Edition

Men’s gymnastics never gets the love it deserves. These are some hot men and all from Team USA.


Pic of the Day


Pending…

We had the meeting yesterday morning, and quite honestly, it probably couldn’t have gone worse. It appeared that all hope was lost. We were being forced to compromise. They let us have our say, then we were told they did not care. The directive had come from on high. The situation was as bleak as it could possibly be.

However, there were some late day developments that may have changed some things, I can’t go into details because quite honestly, I don’t know what’s going to happen next week. We were told things needed to be put on hold until this could be discussed further when the ultimate decision maker would be back. Let’s just say we were given the impression that the directive did not come from on high. The fat lady hasn’t sung quite yet, and the ultimate decision is still pending, I don’t see a different outcome in our future, but I think the ultimate decision will be delivered with more tact in hopes of mollifying everyone.

Anyway, I have my interview at 10 am, and after the interview (probably after lunch), I’ll update this post with how it went. Until then, I hope today is a better day than yesterday.

UPDATE: My interview seemed to go exceptionally well. She said that I sounded exactly like what they were looking for, and the job seemed to be well-suited to me because of my description to her of why I was interested in the position. Because this is a new position they were creating, she asked if I would be comfortable in starting in a position that had no prior established procedures. I told her that in my current position, I had been hired as the first person to hold this newly created position, so I had experience with this aspect of the job and looked forward to the opportunity to mold the position into the best it can be. We talked about a lot of things, and she brought up a discussion of salary, and it is in the range I was considering, so that’s definitely a plus. 

In addition to all of that, the phone interview was supposed to take 20-30 minutes and took about 40 minutes instead. That seems like a good sign to me. She said she’d pass her notes and my application material to the museum’s hiring committee (she’s just the first line HR person), and she’d let me know the next step (i.e. if they were going to continue with me as a candidate or not) early next week, possibly Tuesday or Wednesday. She’ll give them her recommendation, and we’ll see how it goes from there. She seemed to be leaning in the direction that I was exactly what they were looking for in this position.


Pic of the Day


Down in the Upper Valley*

Yesterday, I had to drive down to White River Junction, Vermont, on the New Hampshire border for an appointment to get fitted for a new type of CPAP mask, since the one I have is aggravating my trigeminal neuralgia. I did get a new mask, and I just have to see how it works. There weren’t a lot of options that don’t put pressure on the right side of my head. I just can’t continue with the old mask which was causing me to go to sleep in pain and wake up in pain. I hope this helps, but there are other options if it doesn’t. I was told by my sleep doctor that I had to try the new masks before we could move onto other solutions.

While I was in that part of the state, I decided to go to the King Arthur Baking Store in Norwich, Vermont. They have a really nice kitchen store that sells much more than just King Arthur Flour. It’s expensive , but it’s fun to look. However, I got there and it was so crowded with people, I decided not to even go in to have a look around. Instead, I decided to drive across the border to Hanover, New Hampshire. Hanover, you may know, is the home of Dartmouth College. The college makes up most of the town, but it’s a beautiful little New England town. I had wanted to check out where a few restaurants I’d heard about were and see what the parking situation was, which turned out to be basically nonexistent. All I saw was a few street side metered parking spaces. Nowhere seems to have their own parking lot.

While the buildings on the campus and in the town are beautiful, the better view is of the male students. Basically, they all look like J. Crew models, and there’s a good reason for that. One of the largest retailers near the campus is J. Crew. Not only do all of the guys dress preppy, they are all pretty cute too. The women on the other hand seem to all dress like hippies. None of them look to take particular care of their appearance, but I’d venture to guess, they work really hard to have the appearance of not working hard on their appearance. In Vermont, unshaven men and women seem to be the norm, and most clothing appears to be from either vintage clothing store or if they want to dress up, L.L. Bean and their flannel collection. I am only exaggerating slightly. However, seeing Dartmouth students walking around Hanover, it’s refreshing to see guys clean shaven and dressed nicely.

In other news, my coworkers and I at the museum have been strategizing on how to best deal with the issue over the current exhibit. I’ll make sure that I update y’all tomorrow. I am not looking forward to today, but at some point we have to make a stand. I just pray, this isn’t our version of Custer’s Last Stand. All we can do is make our case and hope for the best. If it goes against us, there are back-up contingencies. I just hope we don’t have to go that route. I am looking forward to my phone interview tomorrow, and I’m going on a date Saturday afternoon. He’s a professor in Burlington, and we’re going to meet at a museum up there. Then the plan is to go back to his house for an early dinner. I’ve enjoyed my chats with him so far, and I hope it’s a pleasant experience Saturday afternoon.

*The Upper Valley straddles the Connecticut River between New Hampshire and Vermont which includes the towns of Hanover and Lebanon in New Hampshire, and White River Junction and Norwich in Vermont.


Pic of the Day


Work Problems

Work is a mess right now. We are having a problem with a donor who wants to dictate what the museum exhibits. It’s not something I can go into too much detail about, but basically, the Office of Development (the fundraising wing) of the university’s administration wants this donor’s money and is trying to force the museum to cave to the pressure he is putting on us. If they force us to yield, we will not only alienate a large section of our student and alumni population, but we will most assuredly lose the other curator at the museum. Also, the museum will have to face a public relations nightmare that Development won’t have to deal with immediately. However, in the long run, it will be a disaster for fundraising efforts to the group of students and alumni they will piss off by doing this.

There are numerous reasons why we have to do our best to stop them from forcing us to change the current exhibit. One of those reasons is the main reason we did this exhibit: public health concerns. We needed an exhibition that would allow the gallery to be a more open space. We needed to have an exhibit where people would continue to social distance. If we cram more into this gallery like this donor wants us to do, the gallery will become a public health hazard. This will be even more of an issue at homecoming when we have many more people on campus and the museum sees heavy traffic during this time. The nation, and the northeast included, is already seeing cities begin to reinstitute mask mandates because the variants of COVID are spreading even to the vaccinated. While the vaccinated don’t seem to be dying from the variants, I don’t think the university wants to be seen as a hotbed of an outbreak because we had people crammed into an enclosed area during homecoming.

I am not directly involved in this as my director and the other curator did not include me in most of the planning or execution of our current exhibit. Usually, I am much more involved, and I write many of the interpretive labels. This exhibit, however, did not need interpretive labels, so I wasn’t very involved. However, once the exhibit is up, that’s when I get involved in creating innovative and engaging programs highlighting the exhibit. I have been working on several programs that I do not know what will happen to if they make the changes to the exhibit they are discussing. My plans for public programs for the museum will fall apart if changes are made.

I’ll be honest, our current exhibit is not my cup of tea. I would have never organized this exhibit, but now that it is installed, we can’t just take it down when we have had an opening reception for it, and all of the publicity for the exhibit says it is scheduled to run through December. Also, as I said before, if they force us to make changes, our other curator will quit. If that happens, who do you think will have to help take up the slack: yours truly. My director and I will be forced to try to retool the exhibit to this donor’s liking without the expertise to do it. Neither of us is an exhibit planner, which takes a unique skill set.

We have a meeting tomorrow morning with the powers that be to discuss these issues. While I am not the main person this will affect, it will most certainly make my job more difficult. We will only have a matter of a few short weeks to make the somewhat drastic changes they are requesting, something that usually takes months of planning, preparation, and execution. The higher-ups are not looking at the long-term picture. They are only looking at a few immediate things, and they are not considering the number of donations they will lose because of this fiasco one donor is causing.

To be prepared for tomorrow’s meeting, I have made a list of eight essential points that I want to bring up. I am not a particularly forceful person, but when attacked, I can bite back. I feel like I have to be assertive but rational in this situation. My director is a very weak leader, and he is a nice guy but not a great director. He has already given up as being defeated in this battle, and I am not sure how much he will muster to fight for the museum. If ever there was a time, this is it. If he caves to the pressure, we will always have to cave to their demands from here on out. I also know that our other curator is going to be emotional and irrational. She will not be able to argue effectively. She has faced some personal tragedies and is a bit unstable at the moment. I honestly believe that if they listen to me, as they say they are coming down to do, then I can rationally layout why dictating changes to this exhibit will be a major mistake and have dire consequences in the future, not only for the museum but for the university as a whole.

While I may sound like I am being dramatic, I am not exaggerating the issues a decision like this from the administration will cause. It will affect our chances of accreditation. It will affect donor and alumni relations, not only for the museum but for the university. There will be a backlash from a small but very vocal group of alumni and friends of the museum. The university is not prepared for that backlash. They may even immediately lose some promised funding they desperately need. The one thing I don’t want to do is sound like I am threatening the administration. I will not be the one causing the external issues that will arise, but I know these museum supporters, and they will not let go of this. They will cause a massive amount of embarrassment to the university.

When I learned about all of this on Monday, I made up my mind to apply for a job in Chicago, which I did yesterday morning. It is a job for which I am highly qualified without being overqualified. The last time I felt this way about a job I applied for was the job that moved me to Vermont. I believe I am their perfect candidate, and my resume apparently drew their interest because they emailed me yesterday afternoon to set up a phone interview.

If the administration forces the changes they want to make onto us, the museum will cease to be the same place I have worked at for the past six years. There are other changes that they want to make which will not be good for the museum. I honestly love my job, and I love many of the people I work with. Since they created my current position and hired me for it, I have felt like I found my calling. I love the flexibility I have had working for my current director, as he understands my health issues. I have established a life in Vermont, and I honestly don’t want that to change. A few minor improvements wouldn’t hurt, but overall, I am where I want to be and doing what I love to do. I am praying that they won’t ruin any of this.


Pic of the Day


Boston

Boston
By Aaron Smith

I’ve been meaning to tell
you how the sky is pink
here sometimes like the roof
of a mouth that’s about to chomp
down on the crooked steel teeth
of the city,

I remember the desperate
things we did

    and that I stumble
down sidewalks listening
to the buzz of street lamps
at dusk and the crush
of leaves on the pavement,

Without you here I’m viciously lonely

and I can’t remember
the last time I felt holy,
the last time I offered
myself as sanctuary

*

I watched two men
press hard into
each other, their bodies
caught in the club’s
bass drum swell,
and I couldn’t remember
when I knew I’d never
be beautiful, but it must
have been quick
and subtle, the way
the holy ghost can pass
in and out of a room.
I want so desperately
to be finished with desire,
the rushing wind, the still
small voice.

About the Poem

“Boston” shows loneliness and a yearning for someone that is no longer there. The poem is about how empty and lost we can feel when we are missing someone and no longer able to find comfort in them. During these times, the world seems too big and vast and it feels as though we cannot find ourself. The speaker of the poem remembers back to how he used to feel and how what he used to do now only adds to how deserted he feels. In the poem, the speaker has lost a sense for who he is, saying how he “couldn’t remember when [he] knew [he’d] never be beautiful, but it must have been quick and subtle, the way the holy ghost can pass in and out of a room.” He doesn’t even feel like he’s living because the person he loves is no longer with him. The speaker is trying to find strength around him, but the city he’s in is not providing him with any solace. 

Although this poem is depressing, the audience is meant to be able to relate to it. Smith writes in a way that makes the reader feel the emptiness of both Boston and the space around the speaker without the person he loves by his side. The poem does not portray loneliness as a negative thing, instead, the audience feels the pain of the speaker and, if they have ever experienced a similar situation, is able to empathize with him.

We’ve all felt lonely in our lives. When I went to Italy for my dissertation research, I was alone and I remember how lonely I felt, even though I was surrounded by people. Ironically, I also went on a research trip to Boston, but I had a friend with me, so that was not somewhere I felt lonely. In fact, I had a constant companion on that research trip, but in Italy, I was all alone and knew no one. The loneliest I think I ever felt was when I first moved to Vermont, especially after a close friend died. I felt as if my life had fallen apart and no one could relate. Susan helped me through that period more than anyone. Even so, I felt a void in my life from the loss of my friend. The poem paints the feeling of missing someone in a beautiful way, so that while reading it, you can connect to the speaker’s pain and, for me, share in the speakers feelings of loneliness.

About the Poet

Aaron Smith is the author of two collections of poetry both published by the Pitt Poetry Series: Appetite, finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Thom Gunn Award, and Blue on Blue Ground, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett prize. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Ploughshares and The Best American Poetry 2013. He is assistant professor in creative writing at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.