With grades handed in, the semester floats away from me like an abandoned buoy or side-boat, or decaying dinghy. In office, dark and quiet, safety from outside, from that wind and rain and airborne leaves that somehow find a way to follow you. Co-workers from other department file in, slowly. You can tell they’re in a mode of settlement. I’m in a position and tone of settler, settling into my Sonic role for day. We’ll be walking in this, this weather, the sharp talk of rain and the more elephantine curl of winter Bay Area wind. San Francisco. More than likely will be colder. 7:53…. Need to start on list, soon. Keep lights off for the time, for this time, making now and the entire day mine. Normal proclamation from Mike Madigan’s normality.
Coffee. Will walk across floor to get, from the office area on the east side of this structure. Lights above me still off, lights behind me in meeting room on. Another person walks in. I think of what to do next. Working and not, thinking about where I am in my story and how this fits in. I need to run more, not getting out last night has me regretful and on an evaluative sword’s mercy plate.
Quiet, and then the settling noises. Of any workplace I’ve been at this is by far the more interesting and enveloping in terms of characters and general theme, progression of story. Other offices, like the insurance office in the early 2000s, and the home warrantee operation of ’04 (which as it happens used to be in this very building and I used to sit not far from where I now this type). Then, of course the box of 2011 and into January of ’12. None of them had life, none of them had any promise. How do some employers expect the people working in their walls to be animated and progress to any profitability? I have to ask self this. What do some of these employers think when they design positions then offer people jobs? This is why I’m taken by Sonic as I am, as it’s nothing like them, nothing. It’s a loving and perplexing morass of more volume, more sound and music. You find YOU, here. A definition and intonation of self you don’t in other folds and office buildings, assuredly.
Submitting the semester past’s grades last night, I think of what Sonic’s taught me, what I’ve gathered and learned and upon reflected. Who I am and what I’m doing right now, in from rain and wind, safe and collected at a desk. Desks used to repulse me now I’m renewed, taken to a higher arrangement of character and story adjustment, the Now of it all here in this office. And, me here, what I do here, what I observe and what assembles into my assembly of perception.
This year’s one of study. I’m a student. I’m studying. I’ll receive a grade in the form of opportunity, opportunity I provide self. So I’m grading myself. I’m with the grade book and submitting for sakes of the grade in the book, with a book of my own. Being written here, at Sonic.
8:32. Got a couple cereal cups from market here in office, down this row of desks and then a left, ‘nother left, then a sharp left then sharp right. Back at desk with coffee and cereal, daily tasks I had set for self done, now I collect and ready for day. Ready self for readying and rallying team for a day in the field. Again I don’t know how inclement it is in SF, but I’m sure it could affect mood and morale, if allowed. How some go to jobs they hate, over and over, year after year, astonishes me. Fills me with sadness for them and a virulently loud intent to never let that be me. At none of my other “jobs” was my own pace endorsed, encouraged. Never was I encouraged to this degree to find more of ME.
The jazz of this office reminds me of the thesis to this office and my story here. Sip coffee after bite of cereal, and what precisely the next paragraph holds. This right here, the meta of this magic, magic in the plain, in the so often dismissed and ignored. The singularity of where you work, what you want from it. This building directly addresses and I would say challenges just that. IT tells you that this is more than a simple place to work. IT’s not a job. That’s profanity here. IT’s a missions and edifice of explorative hue. All for you, YOU, whatever you want to do. You heard what the owner said, “Use it as a platform to get where you want to be.” He said that, in a room full of new hires, those impressionable, those possibly still seeking conviction and assurance that this was the right move. You know it is. You have no doubt, question, demand for explanation. You’re hungry. Finally, you think, finally this happens. Finally this is what’s before the day, for me, for what I want and what I’ve always expected a place of employment to be. You know this is more than simple employment, that a simple clocking in and clocking out and getting a check and doing the same thing all over again next pay period.
Even teaching doesn’t do this for you. Teaching, you thought the only career path for you but you found so many caveats and conditions, so many variable and so much chasing. You’d grade that career choice, or more choice as it’s certainly no career, an F. F. F. It failed you in so many manners and immediacies that it’s hard to even entertain inventory. So you move on. You move past it. It’s only an it. One easily replaceable and you have replaced it with life, not a to-do list but LIFE. More invitation for Self and what you were before you even heard of this place. Your normality’s abnormally loving and supportive, enriching and enlivening.
Downstairs after dinner and everyone in bed but me. Long day, whole day in field and all I wanted was this. Some Jazz, low-lit room, xmas tree providing most of my sight. Walking up and down hills in SF makes me want there, the houses, I want just one of them… some impressive grander in my head bouncing forth and back and back to my senses which even I now question. Outside, sky and air remind me of what time of year envelops my Now.
Music on me unexpectedly quits. No mood to fight, quibble, scuffle. So I leave it off. Could turn it back on, with phone, but I’m composed in the composition of this room. Could use another beer for session. But I’ll wait a minute. And the music comes back. What is this devilish device doing to me? To my writing. Ignore it, I tell myself. At lunch, which I told myself I wouldn’t do, dine out, I was in Harvey’s (think it was called) writing in the corner, before the omelet arrived and walked around Castro taking in everything— lights and cars, shops and the bars with their engaging names, street lights and the evidence of history. Going back tomorrow, and making it more a point to write in “real time” as some say. But I hate that utterance and word sequence. “Real” “time”. If you have to note that it’s “real”, or remind yourself or a reader or observer that it’s “real”, there’s an obvious incongruence. To me, anyway. So.. point, write in immediacy spree. While people walk by, walking their dogs, as they answer the door to us knocking to tell them about what we’re doing for the community, put all to page.
Down here, in this room, family room while family upstairs swirls and swivels and swims in dream, I’m doing something, I think. Missed class tonight, and I feel awful, but no choice was mine. One of the sales leads out so I was the transporter man or whatever, taking team to and from between Noe Valley and Castro. San Francisco, begging me for conversation the same way that Paris would let go of Hem. I’m out there as a Field Sale Supervising, most presently and poignantly doing my job, but as well not letting the writing Me away gaze.
This room, now, just what I need. Tree luminous, piano notes and keys hit, and now me. Thinking of how I want to be seen, read, this job I have at a tech company that’s making me more a writer than I ever would have forecasted. Drive down with reps, talking about certain topics then re-focusing on what we were about to do with this new campaign, me the whole time thinking how with business if everything was this exciting, like in the wine world, businesses would more readily attain what they sought. The room says more to me, like just enjoy the room, go get a beer and be Hemingway for a night. Think about your city, SF, and how tomorrow will be definitively different than today. This room, now, not so much what I need but what’s ME. What I embody… composition, the page, me here on couch, in assembly. Time, rather “real”.
Next day, the second where I feel like I’m on a rocket ship, just ascending and appreciating altitude. Third day of victory, of production, producing, feeling my life and creative tide just going and rising and taking me with it. On lunch now, peanuts and a ginger ale I bought from shop. Stomach still a bit uneasy from that vegetarian burrito, yesterday. Work today is more than enlivening and exhilarating. I did feel this a couple times in the wine industry, but with no consistency. Can’t remember the last time at Roth I had three consecutive days of pure life and topic ownership. My story becomes its own storm, now. Its own Now. In this large warehouse-like quarter with Sonic everything all around me and everything that Sonic embodies, from the communicative facet to people just visibly enjoying what they do. I’m definitely space-bound. My work is no longer work but something that’s redefined and redrawn and re-purposed my literary purpose.
Walking someone through the office and into this break arena earlier, I could see the amazement and disbelief in her facial shape. How the company encourages its people, how the “employees” are more so investors and partners, family members to the immediate and distant motions. All motions overlap and intermingle, creating a creative concurrency. Their own currency to be exchanged and interchanged… I notice my own face change shape, sitting here. Taking another sip, not needing any real lunch but just the snack I have and everything on either side— left and right, 12 and 6. All these corners and visuals decide on magnifying my manuscript’s physiology, writing new one for this writer who anymore writes about work as he’s embedded and invested in work that binds to his moral and ethic etch.
I’m horribly saddened, honestly, when I hear of people going to places they hate for work. Of course someone could ask, “Why would anyone do that to themselves?” Yes, an easy question to ask, but not so easy to answer or attach any formula. It’s not that they do anything to themselves, but haven’t found their pages, haven’t landed in their story. What I recognize, appreciate and further analyze in my sitting here is that only now do I see. Did I find not only a home, but a topic. A book, and another one. Me, a writer, literary guy, beatnik from the wine industry, now more fiery and eager and moved to words. AT A TECH COMPANY. But this isn’t some simple tech company, or start-up or wanna-be startup village. This, here, the creative is basal, inherent. Expected. Sonic, like a university hopping around in exponent climates. Here, you’ll hear people say how they write everything down. You see other writers here, other thinkers, people seeking to enjoy where they work— More than just “enjoy” it. Live it. Be it. The IT, to it all. What they do, yes, but more who they are. That’ how I see myself.
My story just arrived. At 39. Late? No. Lovely timing. If anything, it’s more than punctual and optimal, just before 40. This place has me forgetting I’m 39, if you should know, and you should know if I’m with your attention. I just fixate on the day, whatever project to which I tend. The company’s name, Sonic, denoting and connoting sound, and speed, something audible, and then I think of course of music and being a literary bloke hear Kerouac reminding me that the only truth is music. Here, in the break room and in the office proper, between enclaves and hamlets of encouragingly and electric and eclectically adorned cubes and desk, you hear it. See, feel, then a sixth and eighth sense. Someone you acknowledge or you think you do adequately but only know you’re there, in it all.
New writer, new vision. New understanding and embrace of purpose. I am writing a book, about this place. More than a place but a dimension, a warp of time, timing. Forgot about the ginger ale, peanuts. Hearing co-workers talk of their projects and ideas while on lunch. They don’t talk about any TV show, who’s dating who, where they’re going this weekend. But work. WORK. It’s not work. It’s more than passion. It’s creative escalation and an impassioned saddle of axioms and projects. Seeing each day as its own book, not just a chapter. This is not a new chapter in my life but a new life, a new armada of books I’m about to write. This day— what would it be about? Learning, something new. Spreadsheet. Yes, me doing spreadsheets. I was deathly afraid of them, before coming here, and up until yesterday still quite unnerved at the thought of toying with rows, columns, cells, formulae. No longer, though. My self-certain, assurance and general fortitude eclipse any anxiety. Moving at a speed I’d deem supersonic, frankly. And I don’t see myself working, I don’t. I see the growth and the metaphysical and ontological model re-write itself over and over, from this company’s thesis. New song, everyday. New chords. New opus offerings and new interpretations of everything around me. And, again, spreadsheets are part of this paragraph, part of this elasticized praise for where I now sit, in this lunching province.
Stomach, solved. Today did so. Cured me of whatever that restaurants plate did. And I forget it, universally. I’m made more healthy and assembled as a writer in tech’s clef and step. Anything past workplaces instilled, left, far in days behind me. Today’s book, then tomorrow’s, where I’ll be at Month 6, and yes I have a specific aim and tangible destination for such. Never did that with wine’s world. I didn’t need to, as no such thought was ever invited or encouraged. The culture of not only writing and taking notes here, but education both from self but colleagues makes me feel like I’ve discovered some cryptozoological wonder, asking myself What is THIS? and Where am I? Imagine that, being not merely in love with where you are, what you do, where one works, but seeing yourself as healthier, happier, more composed as an immediate consequence.
far more dimensional and engaging than wine. On a number of considerations but I’m tight on time so I’ll just cite one such light. Knowledge. Yes there are things to be learned in wine and the wine industry, but I’m just engaged by more here. People, community, certain business practices and management strategies, creative, the office feel, the people, the company’s name and thesis. I honestly don’t know where to start and end, really. If you must know I hope this NEVER ends. I don’t see myself anywhere else. And it only took me 39 years. Why. Stop with that topic, Mike.
So I move one, think about next year, just around the corner, how it’ll be that year. Whatever that means. Shit… just over 10 minutes left on break. That’s okay. I want to get back to desk, further own what I’m doing here. Demonstrate my invaluable value and contribution consistency. I’m ready for everything ahead. From the tougher days, to those where I’m just overdosing on knowledge. I’m home, I say to self in this corner, in this swiveling space age-looking seat. Watch what I do know, watch where I go now, who I become and what I write. A literary guy in tech.
I got it now. I see everything.
5 minutes left. Should get back to desk. Start. Enjoy how the time just by me flies while wishing it would wait for me, let me enjoy it a bit more. Just for another ten minutes. But time, like I, has its work. I respect that. I guess.
some of my favorite bottles.
Back from dinner. Had a Vermentino, one from France at the recommendation of my friend Ritch, or “Ritchie” as I’ve always had him known, to me. Then some Nebbiolo at his suggestion, again. The acid and the fruit pulsed together like some theatre dance, one I couldn’t understand but only know that they went together. They had a togetherness, like me and the writing act. So here I sit, on the floor of my home, my mnemonic motions don’t sprawl as they usually do. Thinking of wine, and what I’m doing in her world, just free writing while sipping, like now, a Friday night which means utterly nothing to a writer like me. Tomorrow hoping to wake early and run as I did yesterday morning, arriving at the gym before 05:00. But now, I just type, while sipping. Wine and me, with this popularity, and fiery chemistry and interconnected concurrency. Sipping the Pinot I opened before wife and I went to Rosso. A ’12, Sonoma Coast, not speaking to me much in the beginning sips of this pour but now thoroughly harnessed to me attention and inner musings.
She more and more walks around my attention, encircling it with taunt and encouraging tough. This bottle has me in the Now, in the moment, educating and enriching in all its powers, making me smitten and the story expands and more me demands. She’s instrumental, decidedly cognitive in her sentenced saunter and lecture, calculated approach and addle— and I don’t mind being in this spellbind, bound into some coma of sorts, my senses chained, restrained, hardly pained. She, wine, me, on stage eternally, collaboratively. She won’t allow distraction in this maddened past when… future is present and presently I’m future-beset. Not go-let. So I meditate further and collect. Look at the glass, and think further into pasts passed.