Thursday, May 17, 2007

Spending time with strangers

I don't write about my "day job" very often -- largely because, like lots of day jobs there is a fair amount of repetition and drudgery ... who wants to hear that I transcribed over 100 interviews with people with allergic asthma who are now "cured" [or symtoms dissipated] by a miracle drug? That particular job, I admit, was more repetitious than usual although each person had an individual story. Very often I "attend" conferences, panel discussions, conference calls, meetings ... transcribing them of course. Sometimes I learn a lot, once in a while a little of it is useful ... the truth is I will be more compassionate when I climb subway steps behind someone gasping for breath.

Quite often I transcribe one-on-one interviews -- I've had more than enough models and actresses -- but I never tire of the banjo player Bela Fleck who I seem to have "met" a various stages in his career. I've heard what might be insider trading secret except I don't trade and don't know anyone who does so I can't pass them on. I've been utterly mind-boggled by guys explaining how derivatives and hedge funds work ... the words seemed to be standard English but sentence by sentences it made no sense at all. A short time before I found myself in a hospital after a stent was put in my heart, I heard one of the discoverers of statin drugs wondering aloud at a conference why they only work on about 28% of the patients who take them. So when my cardiologist said I should be on statins the rest of my life I quoted The Expert. But so good has the propaganda of the pharmaceutical companies been that it cut no ice with my doctor.

I spent today in the company of [it seems most real when it's a video and not just audio that I transcribe] a woman academic talking to a feminist about goddesses. Ho-hum. At a certain age many subjects have a deja vu component. I may have read this woman's first book back in the '80s. There were various times I felt like adding parenthetical notes to the interviewer suggeting qusetions that went a little beyond what had been said 30 years ago. Of course I didn't; that would be utterly unprofessional on my part. The sad thing is that the wheel has to be reinvented for each generation; and progress in feminism -- forget goddess worship, that was the lunatic fringe then and still is -- moves at a glacial pace ... but so, apparently did this woman's research in India where she's spent 7 years learning that in the most backward village goddesses are the local totem, as it were, a tree or a rock. THAT took seven years? I keep wondering if she noticed how girl children are treated in very poor communities ... a note, of course, I didn't add.

With such things occupying my thought process -- while some automatic part sends impulses to my fingers to spell the words right, add punctuation and make paragraphs at appropriate places -- is it any wonder I need to spend time each evening with good poets? People who are observing the world with thoughtfulness and accuracy ... I think I've covered this subject enough for some time to come.

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