30 January 2008

counting sneezes

Today I sneezed at my desk and realized that it was the first time in a while.

This might not seem remarkable, but there were whole weeks in December and earlier in January where I feel like all I ever did when I came here was sit at my desk and sneeze--that and single-handedly empty the spring water globe when I made my tea (I thought about making a marker line every day and signing it as the water level dropped with my multiple steaming cups).

I think that is the place to start in describing my workplace, Amy, the dust.

I turned to Reporter S and said "That's the first time I've sneezed in a while." She laughed and said, "maybe you're building up an immunity." Maybe I am. Maybe the coat of dust is so thick in my lungs that they no longer respond.

One of our editors is always saying that when she worked in Africa her working conditions were cleaner.

Because this building is dusty. It's a three-story tenement house that's a couple hundred years old. The first floor is a aimless labyrinth of windowless rooms and mismatched paneling and a huge front office. We're on the second floor in this wide room with tall floor-to-ceiling windows. Supposedly the third floor, mostly empty rooms, is haunted.

When the sun shines it beams through the bay windows at the front of the newsroom, striking every particle of dust. Or, when it's cloudy out, like most days, you can look beneath the quivering florescent lights that hang from the uneven plaster and get the same effect.

The window frames, painted grape-cool-aid-purple, and the matching chair board that runs around the room all have a chalky layer resting on the top. All the desks spread throughout the newsroom are irreparably dusty. I just dust the little space around my keyboard and try to rinse off my Gerber daisies every few days. The floor "grinds" when you come in.

So I'm not sure if its good or bad that I haven't sneezed in a while. But this is all I have time to reflect on, because I have exactly an hour to finish a couple stories before I leave for After School Arts.

I don't know what city you're in now. But I'm sure the Spanish or Portuguese dust is older than the industrial revolution dust here.

2 comments:

Amy Stanford said...

lol, i have a fantastic picture in my mind of your dust. The hostel maids in Portugal are OCD about keeping things clean. They will literally hang around the trash can waiting for someone to throw something away so they can take the trash out. And you can walk from the bathroom to your bed in bare feet on a wood floor and your feet don't get gritty. It's mind blowing.

h. e. c. said...

Ok. The ironic thing is that we have a trash person who does that too. He just never cleans anything. I think I saw him sweeping once, but surely he was just moving the dirt around.