In this universe we are given two gifts: the ability to love and the ability to ask questions. Which are, at the same time, the fires that warm us and the fires that scorch us.
~ Mary Oliver, “The Bright Eyes of Eleanora: Poe’s Dream of Recapturing the Impossible,” from Upstream
Q: Do you have a song that you are particularly proud of?
A: I don’t. I like some of them better than others. Every record has a few that prove themselves deeply reliable on the road, and over time those become the heart of your work, but you have to write them all to write the good ones. As a rule the simpler ones are better. (Emphasis mine).
~ Jeffrey Foucault, singer/songwriter
“Well, when you’re running, there’s an edge… Between… What is and isn’t too fast . . .But, um, it’s not a sharp edge. It’s stretchy. And if you’re brave, you push on it.” – TrackTown, the movie.
So, work is changing for me. I began working in technology as a K-12 educator, specifically 4th and 5th grade. I was always the guy who people came to in order to “fix the printer,” or some other item that they were using. Eventually, I left the classroom and took a position as a Technology Coordinator at the private school where I was teaching and continued to do that for two years.
I went back to school and ended up moving into higher education as a person who helps faculty use technology in their teaching and research. This led me to my current place, the College of Design at the University of Oregon and into my current role as the manager of our service desk. In this role we fix computers, set up new ones, apply licenses to our software and help faculty, staff and students navigate the systems that are set up for access to servers, wireless, and other technology related services. I also help instructors use our online learning management system and work in classrooms with technology. There’s a lot of variety and the work is quite fulfilling.
At the College of Design we also have a large-format print shop, in which there are 4 large-format printers. This space is known as the Output Room and gets used by a variety of people to print their large drawings, posters, and the like. Two weeks ago the person who runs that shop took a new job across campus and I have now been placed in charge of the Output Room along with our Technology Service Desk. So it’s more responsibility and it’s more learning for me in an area where I know only a little. The past two weeks have been a time of training for me to gain knowledge of how this place operates.
Fortunately I am inheriting 8 student employees who work in the Output Room. This will bring a total of 16 student employees that I supervise on a daily basis. It is this aspect of my work that I enjoy the most as I get to educate and work with some wonderful young adults. I can’t say enough about them, really. We have a variety of students majoring in different subjects, from architecture to human physiology, to economics to digital arts. All of them are open to learning and do a very good job at understanding the computer systems we support and how to interact with our customers. There are times when I must remind myself that they’ve only been on the planet for 18, 19, 20 or 21 years, which isn’t all that long. Still, helping them understand technology, customer relationships, how to communicate clearly and work as a team is something I greatly enjoy.
As for the Output Room student employees, I will be leaning on them to teach me the ropes starting on Monday. They know the workflows and the demands of the place and it is time for me to watch, observe, take notes, help out and learn. There is new software to understand and new hardware, too. There’ll be new scheduling to be done and eventually new student employees to hire as these all graduate and move on in their lives.
I’m fortunate to really enjoy coming to work each day and this will only make it that much better. There’ll be a learning curve for me, and some bumps along this road, but I trust that I can do this and make it happen.
On May 22, 2017 I slid hard into 3rd base on my softball team. I first felt my right shoulder blade hit the ground and then immediately felt my left foot – specifically my ankle, on the outside part. I knew that I had done something bad in that moment and said as much to our 3rd base coach. My wife told me, before she went to her internship at the hospital that day, “Don’t hurt yourself.” Well, imagine her surprise when she learned I was just downstairs at the ER getting my ankle x-rayed.
I had broken my fibula, the outer bone of the ankle. Fortunately it was just the tip and not all the way through. It was dangling off the end of the rest of the bone like some kind of limb on a tree. The pain was intense and the ball of flesh that enveloped it was large, tender and quite precise.
After about two weeks I went in to see a surgeon – the team doctor for our local minor league soccer team to be exact (which was purely luck of the draw for me). He walked into the room and said to me, while looking at the x-ray, “This is good break!” Inside I thought to myself – oh, no, surgery again. (A year earlier I broke my left pinky finger, playing, you guessed it, softball.) When I looked up and he realized that I was thinking surgery he said, “No, I mean this one is good in that it won’t need surgery.” He told me that he had seen this type of break many times before and that the best course of action was to treat it as a bad sprain, which we did.
Tomorrow is the culmination of months of physical therapy, exercises, rehabilitation and trust of my body to get better. Tomorrow I’m running in my first long race since breaking my ankle almost a year ago now. Not only that, it’s the longest run I’ve done in my life – in an official race anyways. Usually I run the half-marathon distance of 13.1 miles (I’ve run 8 of those and will attempt my 9th in two weeks). Tomorrow’s run is a trail run of 18 miles, mostly downhill with the reward of a soak in a hot spring at the end. Plus I’m running it with one of my very best friends which makes it all the more worthwhile. The weather is supposed to be cool but not raining. Gear is out and ready.
Here we go!