Monday, April 28, 2008

Mercy, part 5

So, here it is. You've been waiting for it. I'm posting part V of Mercy.

Interlude: Yet Another Nun’s Story

Sister Dominic, the principal at St. Quentin School, was a warrior princess, fighting the Holy War against the pagans and unbelievers. She fancied herself to be part of a vast underground resistance, a secret Catholic Army ready to strike at a moments notice. Although she had never met any of her fellow “soldiers,” and could therefore only guess at their existence, she accepted it as a matter of faith that they existed. It would be a matter of time before they contacted her to formally enlist her in the organization.

She knew they would be in contact with her, because God told her so. Not in a voice as per se, that sort of thing was for schizophrenics, and schizophrenia was something even Sister Dominic’s worst enemies had never accused her of, although some had attempted to slander her by labeling her manic-depressive. Sister Dominic knew the mind of God because of her close relationship with Him, and knew what plan God had for her. She was sufficiently close to her God so that what He wanted was what she wanted, and vice-versa.

Sister Dominic, the former Marie Flanigan, was careful not to tell anyone about her involvement in the resistance, because it was impossible to tell who was a spy or a heretic. The Church these days was totally overrun with them. They had begun their takeover in the 1930’s when they went after Father Coughlin, and now in 1968, in this post-Vatican II day, there was only a small remnant of true believers. They would eventually coalesce and retake their Church when He decided it was time. So she kept her views to herself, and consoled herself by giving her students the education that would prepare them to be Catholic Warriors for the Faith when the call would come forth sometime in the future.

Sometimes, Sister Dominic felt she was ready to lead the charge at any time she might be called. At times like this, she was sure she could have whipped an infantry brigade armed with nothing more than her rosary beads. Then there were times where she wondered if she was living in a fool’s paradise, maybe this idea of an underground resistance was no more than a fantasy. At times like that, she had all she could do to lift herself from her bed, and carry herself through the all too long day. What helped her make it through these times of skepticism was the fact that she knew God, and knew what he wanted. THERE MUST BE AN UNDERGROUND RESISTANCE, BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT GOD WANTS!

Like her subordinate, Sister Carr, Sister Dominic would have been destroyed had she known the truth behind her journey to St. Quentin. Her superiors and peers had decided she was nutty as a fruitcake, and in addition to that, a bigoted fanatic, athough they grasped neither the true magnitude of her fanaticism nor that of her mental illness. At any rate, they sent her off to that place of exile for the crazy nuns, St. Quentin's School. She had risen to the post of principal at a previous school, partly as a result of her administrative ability -- she was a detail oriented person who was a competent manager -- and partly as a way to remove her from classroom contact with the children, to whom she was often abusive. Demoting her would surely cause too many questions to be asked, and besides, it was out of the question to have her teaching again. So, then, she was transferred to St. Quentin to preside as principal at that far flung outpost of the diocese for which nobody in power in the Church cared.

Unlike Sister Carr, she did not resent serving at St. Quentin, because it gave her a freedom to run things that she would never have had at any other Catholic School.

For example, there was the famous paddle. At a time when corporal punishment was increasingly being seen as a relic of the past, she had refined it, she believed, to new levels of effectiveness. She was not content with using it for the most severe of offenses, because then the majority who were not the big offenders would feel they were immune from feeling the wrath of the paddle. But, she certainly couldn't unleash her paddle on a regular basis for trivial offenses, as much as she would have liked to. What she did, however, was insert a level of unpredictability into the use of her paddle that she believed increased its impact. Sometimes, she would use indeed use it for a relatively trivial offense, such as kids yanking hats off their classmates in the schoolyard. Other times, a child who had committed a more serious transgression, and expected to have his or hands or posterior feel the wood, might be let off with little more than a lecture. Sometimes the paddle would go into hibernation for extended periods, other times it would be used on a regular basis. Yes, keep them guessing.

She also enjoyed putting the same sort of unpredictability in the enforcement of rules. Sometimes rules would not be enforced for a prolonged period, and suddenly, children would find themselves facing severe punishment for rules of which they might have forgotten even existed. Then, to keep them further off balance, after heavily enforcing the given rule, she sometimes would lapse into a period of non-enforcement.

It was important that the children learn what it was all about: power.

Beethoven’s 9th, Second Movement:

6:20 PM

Calvin spread his papers, books and notes over the kitchen table. Now that supper had been served and devoured, the table was his to do his homework. He moved into this task ever so gingerly, as if he were eating a despised vegetable as opposed to a favorite desert. This was because although he enjoyed learning, he despised homework as if it was the plague. He considered it an invasion of his personal space and time, a naked attempt by his teachers to extend their long arms into his life away from school. Even worse than this was the fact that so much of the homework was absolutely irrelevant to the learning process; it all seemed to be a conspiracy to tie up the kids’ free time as so they would not be able to get into mischief in the after school hours. To Calvin, homework was not a daily chore like hauling the garbage out to the cans, but a dragon to be slain again and again, until someday, the dragon will rise no more. Perhaps war was a better example, considering the bit of unpleasantness currently taking place in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Every war was supposed to be the war that was going to end war once and for all, at least until the next one. Today’s homework dragon loomed especially tall, and would require an extra large sword, and some powerful blows to kill. Bar-Of-Mail had been in a foul mood, and had kept piling extra homework on the class every time that she lost her temper.

His mother, who had just finished doing the dishes, gave him an expressive look as she walked by. Calvin, for all his intelligence, was not very competent in reading non-verbal cues, but he was usually able to make some sort of sense out of the gestures of people who were in his everyday circle. He knew his mother, upon seeing the volume of work strewn across the table, knew that he had a heavy burden of homework, and with that raised eyebrow of hers, was letting him know that he should have attacked this obstacle as soon as he arrived home from school. He had his own reason for not jumping in to the task, however. In his own mind, if he was too eager to do his homework, he felt as if he was selling out, that he was condoning the school’s long arm grasp on him, in the privacy of his home. By delaying it until the last minute, he felt as if he had some control over the situation. He was resisting, in the only way he could.

The TV in the living room was tuned into the news. The nightly news were a regular ritual for his dad, who was not a well-educated man, but nonetheless, was a fairly knowledgeable person who did more than a bit of reading, and kept himself abreast of the news on a daily basis. He had watched a half-hour of local news, and now it was time for the national news; the Huntley-Brinkley program was now beginning with that distinctive “da da DA da da DA da da DA” at the beginning. Calvin had once heard someone say that the music was from Beethoven’s 9th whatever that was. He would have liked to hear the whole piece, but would not get a chance until after the fall of the Berlin Wall twenty-one years later.

Calvin continued to plow through his homework over the next half hour, until his father, once the news was over, came into the kitchen to drink some of that weird tasting stuff that made him act goofy. He had wanted to ask his father how he should have handled the unpleasantness of this afternoon, but he didn’t dare attempt to have a discourse with him during the news broadcast unless he wanted to be on the wrong end of one of his father’s outbursts. Calvin knew now that the news was over, he had better grab this window of opportunity, because he certainly did not want to talk to him when he was intoxicated, as soon would be the case. Therefore, this was a good time to take a breather from his homework, and exchange a few words with his father. On second thought, though, he decided not to mention the brawl, and instead, discussed the safer subject of the upcoming World Series.

Looking for anotther job

Hello all. I haven't posted for a while. I had a nasty bout with either an extreme cold, or pretty bad flu. The nasty virus didn't leave his business card, so I'm not sure which. I was only off my feat a few days, but the residual effects stayed with me a while. I've still got some congestion. Oh, yes, about the job. (Hey I think I'm a real blogger now. I'm bombarding people with the details of my life as if anybody is actually reading this. :-))

A recruiter saw my resume online, which hadn't been updated for a while, and thought I was a good fit for a contract position they have at a bank. I sent an up-t0-date version, and it's resulted in a telephone interview for tomorrow. The hourly comp is an upgrade from what I am making now, and more importantly, it would give me my guaranteed 40 every week. I make a living wage now, if only I was getting my 40. It's feast or famine, with some weeks giving me a very decent pay, and some weeks little or nothing. And we are at the low point of the year right now. The job can be interesting at times, and other times, the work is really below what I want to be doing.

This job would entail taking part in the testing of some new security software for a bank, and then providing user support during the rollout. Sounds like my kind of job. I hope I have enough bells and whistles to impress the interviewer.

I'm glad I had the foresite not to have my name on this blog so employers could not google me.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Mercy, Part 4

The State of Nature:

4:30 PM

Calvin watched yet again as a helpless victim was savagely set upon, although this time, it was not a crisis. The slaughter this time involved not human predators regressing to a beast-like state, but rather, lowly creatures acting out their roles exactly as learned through millions of years of evolution. Calvin sat transfixed at the end of his bed as the tenants of his homemade ant farm overwhelmed the beetle that he had tossed them to fulfill their nutritive needs. When his mother watched him do things like this, she feared that he normally gentle son might be showing a hidden sadistic side. She needed not worry, because his interest in feeding his pets was purely scientific. He saw what he was doing as simply an extension of nature. He was quite repulsed by human violence of any kind, a fact that was underscored by his revulsion to the violence he witnessed earlier that day.

Calvin, from the time he was six, had been entranced with insects. He would capture them, and build habitats for them in his own private zoo. He would invest hours of his time either observing insects first hand, or pouring through books on the subject. At an age when other boys could not decide whether to be firemen, cops, astronauts, or cowboys, Calvin already knew what he wanted to be: an entomologist.

It had not occurred to Calvin that someday he could actually do what he loved and be paid good money while doing so, until someone broadened his horizons by pointing out this possibility. One day, as a first grader, when he was in the schoolyard, watching a preying mantis waiting for lunch to come its way, attracted the attention of Father Dunnigan. The priest knew who he was, because he was acquainted with Calvin’s mother and older siblings, but had not yet had a conversation with him. He was a priest who liked to know everyone in the parish, so he decided to take the opportunity to meet him. Father Dunnigan greeted Calvin with “Don’t worry son, it won’t hurt you, no matter how scary it looks.”

The priest knew two things about preying mantises. He believed correctly, that the monstrous looking things were quite harmless to people, and he incorrectly believed the folklore that there was a fifty dollar fine for killing them.

He was astounded when the seven-year old Calvin began to tell him everything that he could have wanted to know about preying mantises, and even more than that! In talking further with Calvin, he learned that he had an intense interest in not only mantises, but also insects in general.

As the conversation proceeded, Father Dunnigan told Calvin, “You know, you can study this stuff for a job when you grow up. The scientists who do this…they are called entomologists, I think.”

Calvin had read about entomologists, but the thought had never occurred to him that he could someday be one. “How do you become one of those entomologists, Father?” Calvin asked. “Do you have to go to a special school or something like that?”

“Well, Calvin, you’ll have to go through twelve more years, through high school. Then it will be on to college. After that, it will even be more college. It takes a lot of schooling to become a scientist. I know that it sounds like forever for you, because you have only been around for seven years, so talking about schooling for all those years sounds like forever. Believe me Calvin, I know you’re bored like crazy at times, but schooling when you get older will be a lot different. You will get to study things that you actually like, and the school years will be over before you know it, and then you’ll be an important entomologist studying insects to your heart’s content off in the jungles in Brazil or somewhere. And getting paid for it—Just think about that.”

Calvin was astounded by the thought that he could someday have a job that would pay him for doing the things that he liked. From watching his father come home every night, sometimes hostile, sometimes bored, usually tired, and seldom friendly, he had assumed that the world of grown-up work was something not to be savored.

“Father, there isn’t any way that I could study entomology now, is there?” Calvin assumed that he would receive an abrasive “no,” as a retort to such a daring question.

“Calvin, whether or not you know that, that is what you are doing now, and you have been doing it for a while.”

“Father, I meant studying it in school.”

“Calvin, just because what you have learned about insects up to now was not learned in school does not mean that it is not part of education. Knowledge is still knowledge no matter where you learn it. But, I can give you some advice for your formal education that will help you here and now. In all of your years of schooling, you will be exposed too much that will bore you like crazy, either because it does not seem important to you, or because you think that you already know it. I learned a long time ago to keep my eyes, ears, and mind open, because there is always something that I can learn. What may seem useless at the time might be something that it important later on in life. Think of knowledge as being money in the bank.”

Father Dunnigan patted him on the back, and said goodbye. Calvin hated grown-ups patting him on the back or the head; it made him feel like someone’s pet. However, he tolerated the gesture, as long as it was not overdone, because he understood what it was intended to convey. Besides, Calvin’s mind was dancing with images of someday being paid for something that he would do anyway: study insects.

When his told his first grade teacher, Sister Anastasia, of the conversation that he had with Father Dunnigan, she was infuriated that the priest had violated her territory by giving academic advice to one of her students. Unknown to Calvin, she complained to the pastor, Father Nelson, and he agreed to keep a reign on Father Dunnigan, and eventually had him transferred out of the parish. Sister Anastasia, who did not much care for Father Dunnigan was gratified. She wished that there could be more priests like Father Nelson, not knowing years later, he would be implicated in the sexual abuse of a long parade of boys at various parishes, including St. Quentin, during the sixties and seventies.

Calvin continued to watch the ants at their feast, trying, with only partial success, to divert his mind from what he witnessed earlier in the day. Every so often, he would be haunted by the image of Willie Leclerc being punched out, with himself standing passively by and doing nothing.

Kill ‘Em All and Let the Lord Sort ‘Em Out:

5:00 PM Wednesday

Sister Dominic stood statue-like in her office staring at the walls, pondering what might be the proper spot to tack up the poster that her niece, Margaret had sent last month for a birthday present. It would not do for her to arrive and not be greeted by the office walls adorned with her gift, so the nun knew she had to tack it up somewhere, if only for a few days. Sister Dominic despised the poster; she found the cheesy poetry written on it quite maudlin, but when the kid was gone, it could be consigned to the back of a closet where it belonged. After finding a spot on the wall, she began to search for a thumbtack when the ringing of the phone intruded upon her solitude.

It was the Trudeau kid’s mother complaining, yet again, of those ruffians who were beating up her poor little boy. As cruel as it sounded, God put some people on earth to rule, and some to serve. How else could one explain feudalism and divine right monarchy? Feudalism, in the so called dark ages was a system that was created by God where he raised chosen rulers to reign over the masses, and it was a system that worked, at least until it was destroyed by the organized forces of the enlightenment pagans and the Protestant heretics. Yes, Sister Dominic had seen the past, and it worked. That boy had been chosen by God to serve, an American serf of sorts, and was creating problems by not accepting his rightful place in God’s scheme. He was useful to have around, if for no other reason that so young Catholic warriors could have their first taste of blood. There were Holy Wars that would have to be fought, and now was the time to prepare. However, the child had probably outlived whatever useful purpose he had served up to now. If he were kept around much longer, he could be seriously hurt, and embarrassing questions might be asked. It was probably time to show him the door.

Sister Dominic played the empathic listener for a few moments, listening to the latest crisis regarding the boy “Mrs. Trudeau, I promise you that I will get to the bottom of this if I have to turn over every rock and stone,” Sister Mary Dominic proclaimed, even as she was making an unflattering gesture at the telephone.

Mrs. Trudeau shot back, “Sister, you’ve told me this before, but every time my son gets beaten up you always look into it and decide that my son started it. I will be the first to tell you that my boy is no angel. I has gotten in his share of troubles, and told his share of lies to try to keep out of trouble, but I'll say one thing about him that I’m absolutely sure of. He is the very opposite of a violent boy. In fact, Henry and I would like to see him be a bit more physical in asserting himself, but we don’t want to say that to him, because he might get the wrong idea.”

“Mrs. Trudeau, what you have just told me is the first that I have heard of this incident, and I promise again that I will look into this and see that justice is done. If your son was beaten up…” Let him accept his place in God’s scheme of things, and maybe he won’t be beaten up any more.

Mrs. Trudeau interrupted with “What do you mean if he was beaten up. Do you have any alternate explanation of where all the blood and two black eyes came from?”

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Trudeau, I used a careless term. What I meant was if those boys started the fight with James…”

“Sister, even if a hundred witnesses testified that my son started the fight, what justification is there for giving him that sort of beating? This isn’t kid stuff anymore; this is criminal. If you don’t take the action before this day is over, I am taking my son out of your school, and going to the police.”

“Mrs. Trudeau, I assure you, I will act in the fairest way that I know how. I want you to know, back in my days as a novice nun, when I was still known as Marie Flanigan, I chose the name Dominic. I wanted St. Dominic, who founded the Dominican order of priests, to be my namesake, because he was a man of justice. Now in this day of reform, when many of the sisters are taking back the names which they were born with, I have chosen to keep my nun name, because I identify so strongly with his ideal.”

“Sister, didn't he carry out massacres of Protestants?”

“They were Cathars actually, not Protestants, because this was well before the Protestant problem, and besides, he didn't kill anybody. He took on the heretics through the power of his preaching. He let other's do the rough stuff." They were heretics against the True Church, who made their choice and reaped the bitter fruit. But, I should not have said that, because the bitch will think that I am some kind of a bigot.

“I think that I have finally figured out your strange definition of the word “mercy,” retorted Mrs. Trudeau.

Sister Dominic took that exactly as the affront that Mrs. Trudeau intended it to be. “I believe that you are making a reference to my order, the Sisters of Mercy. I assure you one again, Mrs. Trudeau, my heart burns with a desire for justice. If wrong has been done, I will be the hammer of God, an obedient instrument of His will in punishing the wrong doer.” Sister Dominic lit up as she said that, her eyes becoming the eyes of a woman on a mission from God.

Mrs. Trudeau had heard enough at this point, and answered, “Sister, your religiosity is inspirational, but it sounds to me like your holy crusade will be an enormous burden on you, saving the world from the dark forces all by yourself. Perhaps I need to talk to Father Nelson so that he can assist you.”

“If you feel the need to go over my head, Mrs. Trudeau, feel free to tramp your boots all over my little head.” Yes, tramp, tramp and tramp your tramp boots all over me you tramp. “I am sure that Father Nelson will back whatever I will do, because he knows that I am compassionate and professional, even if I sometimes am a little on the stern side.” Don’t you think for a second that I haven’t heard that you had to get married, you slut.

“Sister, all you have to do is ask Calvin Peterson. My son said that he witnessed the whole thing.” Becoming bored with the conversation, Sister Dominic looked over at the poster that her niece had given her for a birthday present, and made a mental note to herself to tack it on the wall. It would not do to not have it displayed when she came to visit this week, even though the poetry written on it was incredibly sappy.

Sister Dominic then said, “Ah, then there is an independent witness. That is excellent. I have someone who can tell me what happened.” That will be the day that I believe that bastard offspring of a marriage between a Catholic and a Protestant heretic. The Church may say that it recognizes, this sort of union, but we know better.

Mrs. Trudeau felt better as she felt the nun’s attitude softening. At first, she was sure a necktie party was being prepared for her son, again. Fortunately, when she mentioned the name of the Peterson boy, she metamorphosed from a lynch mob leader and into a blindfolded goddess of justice.

“Sister, I hope that you will do the right thing. I can’t keep having this happen to Jimmy.”

The conversation concluded as the two uttered their farewells. The nun was gratified to return the receiver to its place as she flashed yet another unflattering gesture at the phone. She was angry because of the time she had diverted on this conversation. Because of this, she was late for her novena.

© Copyright 1998-2008 AAF - violators will be reported to Sister Dominic

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mercy, Part 3

I haven't been up to doing much new posting last few days; I'm down with the flu. So, here's Part III of Mercy

Art for Art’s Sake:

2:30 PM

Today, the class was working on an art project. Usually, art class was on Friday, but Bar-Of-Mail had decided to have it on Wednesday, so they could make get well cards for a faculty member who was in the hospital. If she waited until Friday to have the class make the cards, the teacher might be out of the hospital, or perhaps dead. It would not do to have the get well card arrive after she had already sent home or to the funeral parlor.

She patrolled the class, giving various pointers to the class. “Don’t you know how to draw clouds by now?” To another, she held up the card and exclaimed, “Why can’t you all draw like this?” The latter comment was made with regard to a student who she had put to work as her personal coffee “go-getter”. Yes, to those who knew their place, there could indeed be rewards. On seeing Jimmy Trudeau’s card, a landscape with a picture of the sun shining, she picked it up and tore it to pieces. “Your sun looks like a flower. The sun does not have petals! Only babies draw a sun that looks like a flower.” Although the class had never been given any step-by-step art instructions, the students were apparently expected to know things like this. She then proceeded to slap around Jimmy, administering what the kids called a “slap-out.” Some of the kids were horrified; some snickered

The Battle:

3:10 PM Wednesday

It was June like weather on this late September day in 1968, one of those Indian summer days that only serve to remind us of the bitter, cold days ahead. As five fifth grade boys were sauntering along Stillwell Street, coming home after their day at the St. Quentin’s School, four of them were engaging in a conversation, that not too surprisingly, concerned the upcoming World Series. “The Cardinals are gonna clobber the Tigers in faawh games! That nigger Bob Gibson’s gonna shut ‘em right down like he did the Red Sox last year! ” Willie Leclerc hollered, his voice echoing with half admiration and half raw hatred for the future Hall-of-famer. His close buddies, Ricky Narducci and Steve St.Simone muttered their agreement. Calvin Peterson, who was the third boy, had no answer for the remark. He was offended at the racism—it was wrong, stupid, and plain illogical—but he didn’t have the slightest idea of how to respond to it with out being ridiculed. Not that he really cared what the other three thought of his, because he wasn’t very close to them. He sometimes hung around with them only because they were from his immediate neighborhood, and besides, he wasn’t that good at making friends so he had to take whatever he could get. So, he bit his tongue—why give them an opportunity to make him the buffoon as they too often did.

Jimmie Trudeau shot back, “I think the Tigers can beat them. Just wait! Gibson’s a hell of a pitcher, but the Tigers will do the job. But look at McClain. 31 and 6. That means something! But whydahya hafta slur Bob Gibson. Why knock ‘em for his color. I wish he were on our team.” Jimmy was the fifth boy in this mix. He wasn’t actually walking down the street with the other four as much as he was walking near them, but being a baseball fan, he couldn’t resist getting in on the conversation. Calvin was glad that someone was speaking against the bigotry, but he had this strange feeling that Jimmie was going to pay a price for arguing with the Three Stooges.

“It figures that you’d say somethin’ like that. Who asked ya anywaaay asshole! For that matter, who even gave ya permission to walk on the street with us! Get out of our sight or we’ll give ya more of what Bar-Of-Mail gave ya a little while ago. We’ll kick yuraass good!”

Jimmie was under the impression that the Constitution gave him the right to walk the streets freely, so he defiantly and perhaps not very discretely replied, “This is a free country. I can walk anywhere that I want.” If his forum had been a courtroom, or a law school class, Jimmie’s argument would have carried the day. Unfortunately for Jimmie, he was stating his case in a far less dignified forum. Willie made a highly efficient counterpoint to Jimmie’s argument by starting to pummel Jimmie into submission.

Ricky, a few seconds later, oblivious to the meaning of the peace sign that he was wearing around his neck, followed Willie’s example, and lent his fists to the party. Steve wrestled with his conscience; he was with the safety patrol, and was supposed to break up fights, not join them. He wrestled with his conscience for a total of ten seconds, before giving in to his darker impulses. As Steve’s darker side prevailed, he threw to the wayside his sense of duty, and likewise threw to the ground his red safety patrol flag and bellowed, “Let me get a crack at Trudeau!”

Calvin was shocked by the horror movie that was playing before his eyes, but had no idea what his role in it should be; no one had given him a script. During the eternity of fifteen seconds or so that the beating was taking place, he stood stunned as the gears in Calvin’s head turned to tried in vain to logically analyze the piece of illogic at which he was a spectator. Rising to Jimmy’s defense would be an exercise in futility; two people would be beaten up instead of one, as the odds would still be stacked in favor of the bad guys. On the other hand, he certainly had no intention of siding with the Three Stooges. What was he to do? It occurred to him to do what all red-blooded Americans would do in the same situation: Get the hell out of there and not see, hear, nor speak any evil.

© Copyright 1998-2008 by AAF. Violators will be visited by Willie, Ricky, and Steve.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Mercy, part 2

Here's part 2 of Mercy. If you've missed part 1, look back to my postings of 03-29-08
Part 3 to come

Interlude: A Nun’s Story

Sister Carr seemed to conduct her life in a strange mixture of “lace-curtain Irishness” and barracks crudity.

Perhaps the affected Waspishness was a reaction to growing up in a poor Irish-American family during the depression. Maybe embarrassment about the crassness of her family led her to want to emulate those people she considered being upwardly mobile. It could have been that the hostility that she exhibited to certain children could have been projection of the shame she felt toward her own humble beginnings. Then again, perhaps there was nothing to this.

Maybe her tendency to play the drill instructor could have been an unconscious attempt to emulate her dead brother, who died all too soon with the Marines, during the invasion of Okinawa. He seemed to be the only one of her four older siblings who had any real sense of direction in his life, but he never had a chance to achieve his dreams. At the time she joined the Sisters of Mercy, had quipped to someone she would rather be a Marine, but all women get to do there is to type, and as a nun, she would get to be a leader.

Whatever the case might have been, she had a way of making the lives of those beneath her a living hell.

Sister Maureen Carr, of course, did not consider herself abusive. She of course was molding the children’s character. Yet, for someone who was confident that her actions were right, she toned down her behavior when outside visitors where present, and would deny any such words or deeds when asked.

She would deny having any scapegoats; everyone was equal in her class. Yet, certain students could do no right, and then again, there were students who could do no wrong, mostly children of parents who were involved in the power structure of the parish.

That might sound cruel to some people, but in her eyes, it was simply cold facts. People from lower class families were basically rabble who had to be shown their place early in life. She was careful to whom she said that, because it would be taken the wrong way. In fact, some might have said that her own background branded her as the very sort of rabble against which she was trying to guard society. That would have infuriated her.

It was true, that she was born poor, but she would no doubt counter that she was meant to be among the elite, and it was a fluke that her family was poor. She knew that she was of the elite, because why else would the Sisters of Mercy had taken her to be one of theirs? At any rate, she had strong memories of her poor upbringing, and her father’s drunken rages, and knew that she was not, and was never meant to be of that world.

Calvin came from a similar background; she had heard the gossip about his family. Although there was similarity between Calvin’s upbringing and her own, she did not feel for him. The difference was that she thought of herself as one who was never meant to be part of that type of world, whereas Calvin belonged there, but would not accept it. What was particularly devious about Calvin, was the way that he pretended to be respectable, getting all those A’s like he was actually smart, and some teachers actually fell for the act. It was enraging for her to watch him sit there quietly with his nose in a book, when she knew it was just a front. Sister Carr wondered if he might actually have some sort of strange mental retardation that caused him to appear intelligent when he wasn’t. He couldn’t be, not if he was carrying the genes from such defective parents. Another thing that she hated about him was the fact that when she would cast a gesture his way, he would pretend that he didn’t understand the message that was being sent. He was stupid, but not that stupid.

Her top priority, though, was not Calvin, but the Trudeau kid. She loathed him even more than Peterson. She was offended that Calvin wanted to be a scientist, when he should probably be thinking about being a fireman, or something appropriate to his station, but Trudeau was even worse; He wanted to be an artist. She was going to break him of that, no matter what it might take.

Sister Carr thought of herself as a highly qualified teacher, and was disappointed that she was posted to a school in such a decaying neighborhood; she thought she deserved better than to be among this rabble. She would have been devastated to know that higher-ups in the religious order posted those nuns who were considered the bottom of the barrel—the incompetents, the burn-outs, even the mentally ill—to certain rather downscale parishes. San Quentin was one of those Siberia-type outposts—practically every nun who was there was sent there, because they were not wanted elsewhere. Here, where the parents where less likely to be highly educated, they were less likely to ask embarrassing questions.

© Copyright by AAF. Violators will be sentenced to stay after school at St. Quentin's School.

Monday, March 31, 2008

What I do

I am a computer support technician. I stumbled into the IT field by accident, really. I had my introduction to college at 37. I missed my chance at the traditional age, because I was crawling from the wreckage of my childhood. It was when I went into therapy that I gave college a try, back in 96. I was a Psychology major, because I wanted to reach out to all those damaged minds, like my own. I took a student job in the computer lab to help pay the bills. It turned out that there were no IT professionals on this urban campus. The sysadmin was actually a part time communications instructor who liked computers, and his staff were whatever student workers would do the least harm. So, if you showed some inclination, and some desire, you would get some serious responsibility pretty fast. I found myself a new career.

Right now, I'm doing contract work for a major corporation that provided IT services to various clients. It's feast or famine. The first week of March, I had the biggest paycheck of my life, plus a very nice expense check for the mileage that I ran up. On the other hand, last week's pay was for a grand total of one hour.

I need something with some stability and predictability. I've been doing this gig for a year, and it's given me some cool things to add to my resume. The advice routinely given to those with Asperger's would warn against this type of job -- unpredictability in hours, working with different people, going onto a job blind not knowing what to expect. Certainly, my comfort level is not as high as it might be, but I think this job has been a growing experience for me in the year I have been doing this. A few years back, the unstructured, unpredictable nature of this job would have scared the hell out of me, and now it's just part of my job . I certainly could not have handled this type of job back in 1999. But, in 2008, it's a different story.

But, I'm looking around for something with more reliable and predictable hours. And guaranteed full time every week. And people who know me when I walk into the office. What's the theme from "Cheers" about the place where everybody knows your name?

Screen cleaning utility

This is one of the great screen cleaning utilities I've ever seen. Check it out.