Friday, May 16, 2008

Song for Rachael Leaving


It hurts to see her go, but six and a half years is a pretty good run. Rachael Myers is leaving the lead organizer position at Real Change to take the ED job at the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance. I remember her interview in late-2001 for the organizer position. She was the stand-out in a weird field. There was bizarrely over-qualified guy who dropped out because the pay was too low. Someone else said he wanted the job so he could pursue his true love, academic research. Another thought an organizer was someone who arranged closets and such, and was prepared to bring these skills to Real Change. And then there was Rachael. Scary smart and even-keeled as they come. Some of the artists at StreetLife Gallery were putting up signs down the street calling me a poverty pimp. She wanted to know what that was about. She also asked pointed questions about what we were doing on issues of race.

Rachael came on toward the tail end of the early days, before the remodel, when the front office and its computers was held together with chewing gum and bailing wire. The absence of a decent air system was not good news for the olfactorily gifted. Her thought, she later fessed up, was that this was a recession job. Eager to keep her, I got her a decent office chair. This, apparently, was enough. Real Change grew on her like mushrooms under a May cowpie.

When the twins were born, I was laid off in a manner that eerily coincided with my need for extended paternity leave. She'd been there less than two years, but was the obvious choice for Acting ED. I'd trust her with pretty much anything. She is — as I reluctantly fessed up for the reference call — a total rock star.

I'll miss her. Over the years, we've developed the ability to communicate telepathically and in half sentences. It's a little like one of the more useful bits of my brain found a better job and gave three weeks notice. So, I wrote her a song. It's an instrumental. It's sort of slow and sad, but sort of beautiful and hopeful at the same time. The first version came out the day she told me, but I made it slower, with a proper beginning, middle, and end. Today's massive doses of Vicodin seemed to help.

Rachael leading the WLIHA is good news for poor people. She's got the fire. I'm happy for her. Ben left the organization in great shape, and Rachael's stepping into the job she deserves.

2 comments:

Dr. Wes Browning said...

I listened to your whole damn "song" for Rachael and I did not hear ANY words, which I believe are a prerequisite for the designation "song." What you have there is a TUNE, punctuated by one single auditory grunt, which I distinctly heard, but which was not, I am sure, a word, much less wordS.

When you get around to writing a song for Rachael. I heartily recommend that you begin with your own very fine writing in this post. I would start with the excellent line, "Real Change grew on her like mushrooms under a May cowpie," and build from there.

Bill said...

well, words can make or break a song, and can elevate or submerge a departure,.... maybe Tim is best doing it like this, Wes. Rachael is not leaving town, save when she needs to buzz over to Spokane, Walla Walla, or Pasco. It's a statewide job. She needs a road song,... something befitting the palouse and the urban turf.