Warning: Work and Fiction on Frankly Curious

Tower of Giraffes Hard at WorkDo you have any idea what I’m going through? Work is killing me. Yes, by Frank standards, I am rich! It seems like Scrooge McDuck rich. I mean, if I am running errands, I can just stop at a deli and buy a sandwich. I don’t even think about it. When I buy rice, I choose Basmati over Jasmine, because it is somewhat better, even though it is a lot more expensive. I’m rich! Rich I tell you! But I’m also totally stressed out.

I manage a gaggle of writers. (Look it up: it’s a tower of giraffes and a gaggle of writers — really!) And they have me in a state of anxiety. It isn’t because they are bad. It’s because they are great! Really: I’ve known a lot of “professional” writers in my day and most of them didn’t deserve the status of “writer” much less “professional.” But this group is really good. Some of them are — and I know this will shock you — as good as I am. But this sucks! Because it’s made me very paternal toward them. I worry that they get enough work and that they realize just how wonderful I think they are.

But it isn’t just that. There’s a whole technical side of things. And everything is different. The company I work for is typical of something that started small and grew from emergency to emergency. These are, of course, the best kinds of companies to work for. It means that they are run by creative people who don’t feel the need to plan everything out in advance. But it does leave me with having to remember a whole lot of weird things. And that would be fine if I were still 26 years old with a mind so sharp it could cut peas. But now I have a mind that is more likely to create a squished spot of green.

I think I’m going to post some of my fiction. It’s old stuff, but still work that I think is pretty good… I might even post the first episode of “The Post Postmodern Comedy Hour.”

When I started working seriously for this company, I tried to work four hours per day. Now, I get four hours in before I finish my tea. I could easily work 12 hours per day. But instead, but I love all you so much (and because this blog gives my life some sense of meaning), I work for about four hours, then I write the daily feature here (Like this exciting one!) and then I work a couple of more hours and then I write the morning posts and then I make dinner and then… Well then I spend the rest of the night trying to not end my day just further behind than I started!

And I can’t even take time off. I try! I keep very careful records of the work I do. So I will “sign off” — make a note in my spreadsheet. And then I will notice an email that has to be dealt with and this or that little thing, and before I know it, I’ve worked for a half hour and I figure: screw it, I’m back on the clock. Don’t get me wrong: I’m well paid and I have a great luxury in American life: I can work as much as I want at a job that I actually rather like with really fantastic people. (Really! You wouldn’t believe it! For the last eight years, the internet has been very low energy. We’re going to make the internet great again!)

So next week, I’m planning to get out of town for two days. I’ll still work, of course. I’m afraid if I stop working, the sun may not rise in the morning. I’m not certain, but do any of you really want to take the risk? As a result, I think I’m going to post some of my fiction. It’s old stuff, but still work that I think is pretty good. And if I’m feeling very adventurous, I might even post the first episode of “The Post Postmodern Comedy Hour,” which is probably the most perfect piece of self-expression I’ve ever written. But if you could put up with me whining about my life all these years, you can certainly put up with that!


This is also meant to inspire me to work on “Donna Q,” which I’ve been playing with for months. You can probably guess what it is about. But would you imagine in all takes place in a Starbucks? No, I suspect not.

27 thoughts on “Warning: Work and Fiction on Frankly Curious

  1. I am not sure why you haven’t really expanded the number of people who write for this blog. Granted trying to work with the people to get them up to your quality is going to be slightly difficult but is it that hard?

    • I think the main problem is that editing posts and formatting them correctly (adding legal images, block quotes, etc) takes the same amount of time for Frank as writing his own. I’m sure if there’s anything you’d like to write he’d be happy to post it.*But it’s still time-consuming. The fiction week should be fun though!

      (* — Unlesss it’s a stream of cusswords about Arizona politicians. Not that they don’t deserve it. Come to think of it, it might be a fun exercise to use horrible language that includes no profanity. As in “Senator Coleman is a man so odious his excrement changes its birth name.” Or “calling Cruz’s speeches dog-whistle politics greatly insults the intelligence of dogs.” That sort of thing!)

      • I have written two things but one was admittedly subpar and the second one is probably not going to make it because he simply is too busy poor man.

        Well technically rich by Frank standards man.

        • Writing subpar is how one learns to get better, IMHO. I’m a firm believer in that. And as for your better work, you never know if it might be used down the road, or if you might find a place to use it somewhere else. I just hope you enjoyed typing them. That should always be the main thing.

          • That wasn’t why it wasn’t published. It was that it was something that she couldn’t publish, so it was research for me. I never got around to acting on it.

              • Now I really want to read it. But whether or not you have the material needed to do research, it’s a matter of time and energy. When you’re energized and have free time, research is a delight. When you’re beat down and broken and stressed out, research is a horrid drag.

                • No you don’t.

                  It was a boring description of the recent consent decree for third party debt buyers issued by the CFPB with the agreement of the major debt buyers that stops a lot of zombie debt, the impact on the market, and the fact that the media doesn’t report on this stuff since it is dryer than the Arizona desert in the middle of June.

                  • Actually, that sounds pretty good! But the trick is translating it from legal-ese (which you understand) into conversational English, the language of web posts (which you also understand.) Sometimes the translation is damnably tricky.

                    Zombie debt is a major issue and hugely important.

                    Depending on your level of boredom, you might take a look at this MN Supreme Court case I’ve run into recently: http://mn.gov/workcomp/2005/Pratt-09-19-05.htm

                    Essentially, if I’m reading this correctly, this case sets a standard for workplace injuries. The injury must represent an increased risk due to employment, and this instance (stepping on a small rubber mat) did not meet the test. (Morally, I think that’s bullshit — you got hurt on the job, the job should pay to fix you — but we’ll stick to legal liability here.)

                    Talking with a state mediation expert yesterday, he told me work injury insurers have been going apeshit ever since this ruling came down, insisting that almost any work duty doesn’t qualify as increased risk. (Hey, you have to lift heavy packages for UPS? Well, you have to lift them at home when UPS delivers them to your door, so injuries caused by repeated stress are “normal daily living.”)

                    There are several cases before the state Supreme Court now requesting clarification of this ruling, and probably will get it, although it will take years.

                    As you’re an ex-judge, I ask you — what kind of lazy dingbat makes such a vaguely worded ruling, open to so much greedy interpretation? Not a very good judge.

                    So criticize your writing all you like if you want, I can’t stop you. (And some self-criticism is useful, I’ve found.) But have you ever written anything so sloppy it caused thousands of workers to get screwed over? No, you haven’t.

                    In writing, boring precision is preferable to stylistically fashionable vagueness. (There’s a certain style demanded of popular writers in every era. It constantly changes. Clever hacks know how to use it.) The tough thing is being clear and original and not boring. That’s probably an ongoing battle for any writer.

                    If you’re dull because you are being too precise, you’re on the side of the angels. You’re respecting your readers, which is the most important thing. Dullness you might occasionally find a way to overcome (I do once out of every ten tries or so.)

                    People who are rewarded for being fashionably vague almost never go back to the hard work of thinking (if they ever did that work at all.) They have keyboard shortcuts inserting the phrase, “A taxi driver told me . . .”

                    • Now that I have a chance to review that case…

                      I am not seeing why the work attorneys have been making that argument. This was a case where it there was no argument that it was a repetitive stress injury like constantly lifting boxes is. The sole fact someone stepped off a mat does not indicate where the employer liability comes in outside of the fact it took place at work. If the law doesn’t allow for compensation for when the person is at work with no other indication that they were at an even marginally higher risk, then no, the petitioner is not covered. Had he fallen? Different story.

                      I think the judges were very clear and the work lawyers are playing games with the language to avoid having to pay for liability. Which is often typical and is what requires the judges to do the judicial equivalent of “THAT IS NOT WHAT WE SAID.”

                    • Oh, if you loathe how insurance lawyers are interpreting that case, you REALLY don’t want to read “Dykhoff v Excel.” Trust me; it’ll make you spit blood, knowing they use a ruling like that to deny coverage to workers.

                      As a state employee told me, this stuff is being challenged, and in a few years it will be worked out. In the meantime, though, some skeezy companies are getting away with shit they shouldn’t get away with . . .

                • Passion for letting others barge in to take work off of your shoulders? Because that is the reason the two of us keep offering. We feel bad you are so tired, stressed and worn out.

                    • It’s back on now because she’s going to hire an “editor” to do the work and deduct it from my royalties. It’s funny: she’s going to hire an editor. That alone shows that she is asking me to edit my own book. I have an article about it coming out tomorrow. It terrifies me. But how can she possibly be any worse than she already is. If she gives me any more problems, I’m going to publish our entire email conversation. Her most recent complaint is that I didn’t include the date in the file name. Except that I did. She’s so horrible. But I don’t care about the book. I just care about her being out of my life. She is the most unprofessional person I’ve ever worked with.

                    • It is. It isn’t about publishing. It’s about being stuck in a relationship with someone who is unreasonable. She’s not interested in publishing a book. She’s interested in asserting her authority. The reason I finally said “no” was because there was no end to it. Her most recent complaint was that I didn’t tell her exactly where to put the quotes. If I had told her exactly where to put the quotes, she would have complained that she couldn’t place them there and that I have to leave it up to her. It’s the old “bad” child syndrome where there is nothing I can do right. I’ve done a great job over the last decade of getting rid of difficult people. This was a major mistake on my part. And it is because I feel sorry for her. No one likes her. She literally has no friends. It’s sad.

                    • Maybe I should set her up with my best friend. They can battle it out far away from the rest of us.

                    • oooh ouch. I don’t know which one you are trying to insult more. But it is funny.

                    • I don’t mean to insult anyone. But there is a reason why she is so alone. Relationships are a two-way street, and she only drives on narrow one-lane roads.

    • Well, I haven’t gotten to your article for example. And James has stuff laying around that I haven’t gotten to. But I will!

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