Get your motor runnin’, Day 20: Worst job in the world


Today was a very, very hard day for stuff getting done. Between watching the inauguration (before, during and after which I cried at least 15 times) and a brutal teeth cleaning (floss early, floss often, young people) I was pretty much a spent rag of a wreck by 3pm.

So while our amazing new President and his amazing wife flit around D.C., graciously giving yet more of themselves to the jubilant and adoring crowds, I will probably knock off early (where “early” is “before 7pm”), head to my friend, Dea’s, to pick up my candles, and hang with my boyzzz, The BF and Arno J., for a little corny (sorry, Fionnuala!) beeb costume drama before passing out.

This means that tomorrow will be that much harder, because some of the stuff that should have gotten done today won’t get got done until tomorrow.

But there are two reasons that this not only doesn’t bother me, but thrills me to my core.

The first is that whatever I’m doing and however hard I work at it and no matter how much it means to me and/or the world, this man, this amazing new President of ours, is working harder at something that’s exponentially, geometrically, incomprehensibly harder. And, if past performance is any indicator of future returns, I suspect there will be a minimum of fuss and a maximum of grace about it. And if he can do it with what’s on his plate, by gum, I can do it with what’s on mine, and then some.

The second is that this man, this amazing new President of ours, is our president. At one point, around the same point that I was, he was just another American kid whose mom wanted him to make something of himself. Only instead of having some piffling gender odds stacked against him, he was an American kid from a single-parent household who was half-black, which, in this country, meant he was black, period, and which, as he pointed out in his glorious inaugural address, means a whole lot to all of us:

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

Yeah, it’s kind of corny. But it’s 100% fantastic. If you work at something, bit by bit and day by day, you can make it happen. Not always. But it’s possible. And he’s going to try it again.

If this man is willing to do that with what I think must be the most horrible job in the world, I can damned sure do it with mine.

Who’s with me?


Image by marcn via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. I for one am with you but can you throw us a reminder every now & then?

    We closed our office for a few moments so everyone would have the chance to witness history, not many dry eyes around. And in communicating with a gentleman from Trinidad today, the end of his email read:

    “We know that today is a special day for all Americans Please accept our Congratulations.” What an impact this has made around the world.

    Is it wrong to say I love my dentist? We have a standing engagement every six months. Question: Why do the hygenists insist on asking questions when they have their hands in your mouth?

  2. Oh, darn, you reminded me I have to book a check-up soon at the Big Ds.
    I’ve been blessed with splendid teeth and they’ve not let me down in nearly 40 years. But I always worry THIS will be the time the Big D tells me (in a voice like Vincent Price, albeit speaking Swedish): “Dr Buscall, I’m afraid we’re going to have to use the drill…”

    As for your new president, I’m filled with hope and optimism. I can’t quite remember a politician being welcomed so willingly. Perhaps Tony Blair (UK) when he first took office, but maybe not. I sincerely hope President Obama delivers something of the class and hope he arrived with.

  3. Tony Blair…

    It’s popular in Britain to bash him these days. Has been ever since Iraq. But I count myself among those who never bought him in the first place. All 55% of us. (Thank you 3 party system. Thanks a bunch!)

    The difference between Blair at his height on May 2nd 1997 and Obama yesterday is summed up in one image. Those millions in the Mall. Blair’s people were so self-conscious that the “iconic” pictures of him hugging cheering bystanders in Downing Street soon turned out to be staged and all of them were campaigners on his team.

    The US and UK media are much more alike right now though. Over here it was just jubilant relief on all the reporters faces when 18 years of Tory rule came to an end. After 2006’s midterms, the American media learned to root for the other team as well.

  4. I’m with you, too.

    My university department hosted a discussion of the inaugural address yesterday afternoon. Only about a dozen people showed up (half of them students I’d lured in with the carrot of extra credit), but the discussion itself was worthwhile.

    One of the main points that kept coming up: While we tend to remember other famous inaugural speeches for their rhetorical flourishes (“We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” “Ask not what your country can do for you,,,”), the true test of this one will be whether we all get off our butts and DO something now that we’ve heard it. It reminded me of the old story about the two Greek orators: When Aeschines spoke, people said, “How well he speaks!” But when Demosthenes spoke, they said, “Let’s march!”

    Let’s march!

  5. Wow. You’ve articulated exactly what I’ve been thinking since yesterday. I was saying to a friend last night, if our new President can so gracefully take on this role, then I can damn well find 10 minutes a day to write, 10 for language study, and 10 for working on finding more meaningful work – even while doing the Day Job.

    Now if only I could get over my fear of dentists… I am way overdue!

    And since I’ve lurked here for such a ridiculously long time, may I just take this opportunity to say thanks, Colleen, for all your brilliance? I figured I’d have to stop lurking some day since I find so much resonance in your writing! You help me feel a little less crazy each time I visit your blog.

  6. Angie – Oh, I’ll keep on reminding, all right. If only to keep *myself* reminded. That is a lovely story, that bit about the email. And the saddest day for me was when I had to leave my old hygienist, who’d chit-chat up front, then STFU for the balance of the cleaning.

    Although come to think of it, while my new dentista is chatty, it’s just in the upfront portion. She STFUs when she’s in there, digging around. Virgo thing. Needs to concentrate.

    Jon – You’ve NEVER been drilled? I don’t think there’s a tooth in my head that hasn’t been, at least once. You lucky dog, you.

    John – Interesting point about the media. I can’t imagine how dreadfully depressing it would have been to slog through that muck every day for all those years.

    Denise – I think part of Obama’s power to mobilize is that he doesn’t just talk, he does. There’s just this expectation on his part that we’ll all step up. And when people expect stuff of you…well, most of us deliver. (At least, I hope we do.)

    I’m just beyond impressed that you can throw out an old story about two Greek orators like some people throw out knock-knock jokes.

    Kate – I’m starting to think that all this interconnectivity is making it easier to tap into the collective unconscious and let ‘er rip. It seems more and more, I’ll see something I was just thinking of or writing about. And thank you for your kind, kind words. You may be crazy as a loon, but I’m pretty sure it’s the good kind of crazy.

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