An Honest Day’s Work

Joseph prided himself on maintaining a forty hour work week. Many in his line of work did not, opting for the least work possible with the best return on their investment. It would be easy to do the same, to arrive only when he needed and leave immediately, but his father had been precise about such matters, so Joseph would be too.

It was a lazy man who didn’t put in his forty, his father would say. A man who didn’t understand the value of a dollar, or someone who didn’t have pride in their work. Grandad was a union man and fought to get that forty hours, and his dad dutifully maintained it with religious precision. Starched shirt and tie, out the door every day by eight-fifteen to catch the bus downtown. Joseph understood now that it wasn’t just to take care of his family, but also to take care of his soul.

Start slacking off, cutting corners, working less than the golden forty and a man becomes slothful. Thirty-eight hours was a sin against God, taking employment for granted. Lucky to have a job, so it deserves a full forty.

That’s why Joseph always set up thirty-nine hours and thirty minutes early. He didn’t need to—an hour or two would normally be sufficient—but he took pride in his work. It was because of that pride he was sought out. Joseph was a professional, and the men he worked for knew he would give the job his everything. That was his duty.

Joseph would occasionally sigh as the hours wore on and wonder about taking the easier route, but he always recoiled from these thoughts with a mental slap. That’s not how I raised you, his father would say. I thought you were better than that. I didn’t raise a slacker.

Joseph checked his watch, grimly sighed and stretched his back, then laid back down on his stomach. It was about that time.

Placing his eye to the scope, he shrugged his shoulders to loosen them up, adjusted the angle slightly, and waited for the door to open. Pull the trigger, sit up, disassemble and slip the rifle into his briefcase.

Five o’clock—time to go home.

Moleskine Notebook

April's Art

I don’t often visit the National Art shop on National Ave. here in Springfield, but such avoidance flows from no hatred of the arts. I simply have no need for the tools they provide, being neither an artist nor a nation, and what few items they have that I might use (paper and pens/pencils) are generally overpriced. Despite that, I found myself wandering their gleaming aisles yesterday while April shopped for easels. During her art class last semester, April discovered that she has a burgeoning interest in art, and a fair talent for its discourse, but felt limited in her expression at home. Lacking an easel meant laying the paper flat upon the floor or a table, which made getting the proper perspective translated onto the page impossible.

Since April’s parents had established a tradition with her older brothers of acquiring furniture on their behalf upon college graduation, April’s first thought was to get an easel, hence the art shop. I, of course, began looking at paper and pens.

The moleskine notebook had always intrigued me, mostly because it is horribly overpriced for relatively little paper. Being in a generous and celebratory mood though, I decided to pick one up along with a pen, hoping this would inspire me to jot down ideas as I had them and maybe develop a little poetry. Though the notebook was still expensive, they (surprisingly enough) had it for less than Barnes & Noble, so I didn’t feel quite so cheated.

After I carried it around in my back pocket all afternoon and used it a bit, I felt even better about the purchase. The cover is quite sturdy and the notebook wasn’t damaged at all by my rough usage of it. I was really shocked at its durability, and though adding the pen in there made it a little uncomfortable, it wasn’t too bad. I could always carry the pen elsewhere, of course.

We’ll see how long this lasts, but I’m hopeful. I wrote an idea for a poem down, and I’ve been churning out short story ideas with increasing regularity. One of my current projects is, “A Horrible Little Book of Horrible Short Stories,” and I’d like to add a few more to it before I’m done. Now I just need to find the time to write.

My mom departs around 5 p.m. tonight, and April’s got a work meeting so I’ll be writing as much as I can this evening. The entirety of this upcoming week (in the evenings only, since I work all day) will be dedicated to writing blog entries for the next two months so I don’t have to worry about that for a while and can focus on my scifi novel and short stories. Someday I’d like to start writing theological essays with more regularity, but I need to devote myself to getting some of these other projects actually done. One at a time with great abandon, and then start the next upon completion of the first.

Time to go drink some more coffee with my mom, and then we’re going to visit the Vineyard again this morning. By the way, I have a Flickr page now, so for all you non-Facebook people there’s a place where I’ll start putting some pictures up. Yay?

Inside Straight

As I have mentioned before, I don’t really like short stories, but Inside Straight, edited by George R.R. Martin, was simply fantastic. The novel is classified as a “mosaic,” a term I haven’t seen applied to books before, and is a collection of stories written by different authors, all contributing to a centralized purpose. Rather than a lose thematic tie, there was clear collaboration between the contributors, and each story, though written by a different person, furthered the overall plot of the book.

It seemed that one author in particular guided the work, as his stories comprised the majority of the book, but I was very impressed nonetheless. A mosaic method of book creation brings a refreshing variety of styles and viewpoints to the novel, and with a solid editor such as Martin, the concept shines. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in parallels to our modern day world, fantasy or scifi, or superheroes. Inside Straight is far more than a collection of short stories, so check it out.