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As we sit in our favorite waterside restaurant, basking in a glorious last day of ďrealĒ summer and sipping margaritas, he astonishes me with the suggestion that if I get the new job that we take a trip, a real trip to a dream destination, during my interim vacation. His motivation was a puzzle to me at first, but I rapidly realized I donít care why he suggested it, I want to go. I donít know that weíd be able to pull off the necessary arrangements in such a short span, but Iíd certainly enjoy trying to make it happen.
Could it really happen? Could I return to the city, to work in this vibrant, funky neighborhood? I love the job as it has been presented so far, the team is bright, interesting, what you expect of a university department. It doesnít mean Iím committing to stay permanently in NY, but I do think it would allow me to recover some of my sanity and determine what I want for the future. And I think, maybe, just maybe, while it would be a lot of work, I would have fun doing this job. Too bad Helene has left the city.
I hate humans. I really do. Some individual people may be alright, but in general, humans suck. They ruin everything: they lie, cheat, make war in the name of God and Profit, and of course, they steal. They stole my perfectly good, barely used Townie bike, right out of my garage. G didnít recognize that my lack of outer response was because Iíd shut down in order not to be overwhelmed by my inner response. Its starting to feel like the city all over again: everything must always be under lock and key. I donít want to live that way.
It is so much more difficult to appear busy than it is to actually be busy. I hate playing the game of looking at the computer, shuffling papers on my desk, or just walking about the office when Iíve nothing to occupy my time. Iíd rather be knitting or reading a book. And, regrettably, thereís only so much to do online that interests me that I can do at the office. Even more, I hate that thereís not even anything of interest for me to do for these many hours I sit at my desk, that Iím not actually busy.
The Lords of Chaos ruled today, iron fist in chain mail glove. I canít stop trying to help, even though I know it isnít actually wanted (at least, not from me), because I can see what needs improvement. There is neither understanding of what I have personally done in the past and that Iíve been there, done that already, nor comprehension of the fact that one of the purposes of my field is to ensure optimal performance. And in the midst of this umpteenth lesson on why I donít belong there, the call came through: Iím on to second round.
Waiting for the storm to roll in later tonight, it is the perfect day to do nothing constructive. I knit and enjoy the time spent watching silly movies on TV while making steady progress on two projects. I contemplate the stillness of the house, which seems amplified by the steady patter of rain outside, insulating it from the rest of the world, even though there are almost no cars out on the road, it is as if the world has stopped. After yesterdayís turbulence, I am relishing the solitude and peace, although I would like to share it with G.
Of all of the houses that weíve looked at in the last couple of years, there have been very few that we would have bought. Assuming we had the money, that is. Two of the houses we saw that we found acceptable Ė meaning, the house, the property and the location - were well beyond our means: $2 million or more, and were in Rye. The only other house I can think of that qualified on all three counts is the Tavern, and regrettably, I fear it would now also be beyond our means given the declining value of the Gatehouse.
Choices. Life is all about choices. If you donít perceive the choices, or donít give them a complete and honest evaluation, no matter how outlandish, impossible or improbable they may seem at first glance, then youíve boxed yourself in. The world will do that to you often enough anyway, you shouldnít help it by actively limiting your choices. How long do you wait for a situation to ease before you decide the only option is to get out? What if the universe offered you the opportunity to reverse what appears to be a major life decision gone wrong? Choose. Now.
Happy Birthday, beloved, Happy, HAPPY Birthday! Iím so glad we found each other, that I held the ďIíd rather be alone for the right reasons than with someone for the wrong reasonsĒ theory until I met you. I want to give you the world today, anything and everything that will please, delight and amuse you. But of course, you simply smile and say that you already have me. Which is perhaps good, because the one thing I know you really want right now - to sell the Gatehouse Ė is not something I can just go out and get for you.
Boredom = Opportunity. Iíve been trying to find new and interesting books to read. Iíve polled my friends. Iíve reviewed the Big Read stuff. Unable to spend the afternoon at the bookstore to evaluate the recommendations, I instead turn to the internet. Hoping that perhaps experiences over the last two decades has mellowed my attitude towards the classics of Literature, I download and read a chapter or two at the office, courtesy of The Project Guttenberg and determine if Iím actually interested enough to check it out from the library. Edith Wharton is a possibility. I still canít stand Dickens.
I walk around the city for a while after my interview, uncertain how I feel about being here on this anniversary. Just as I decide that thereís nothing that disturbing about it, I walk past an East Village fire department. The outside is hung with black crepe, the big bay doors are all open, and two dozen of New Yorkís Bravest in their dress uniforms loiter about the space uncomfortably, clearly at loose ends and unsure what to do, and obviously unhappy about the day. None of them meet my eyes, and I continue on my way, considering and reconsidering
I survived one more week at work. And honestly, Iím a bit surprised I made it after everything that has transpired so far this month. It is taking all of my mental discipline, whatever Zen ability Iíve acquired in the last thirty years, to keep coming in, to not just give in to the overwhelming urge to quit. I am giving more thought to the conversation I heard with David Lynch about transcendental meditation, though wondering how to even start with that. Itís either that or find a decent therapist to get me through until a job change comes about.
The coming full moon and the massive tensions this past week have me tied up in a knot. I dug out an old file of collected Frippisms, hoping to find something in the cryptic Zen-like statements that will give me perspective, if not actual hope. And there, mid-page, was this beauty: ďBeing is a measure of our coherence.Ē Ah, how do I even begin to appropriately interpret that, apply it to myself and the current messy situation even though my heart instinctively leaps and soars as I read the words? The literal interpretation is evident, the truth is less obvious.
I spent some time during the cooler weather today swatching more cashmere in a different stitch pattern, giving full rein to imagining the possibilities, as a way to help divert some of my nervous energy and to rest my still unhappy back. Iíve learned to see the flow and shape of garment possibilities after knitting a small swatch to see the difference between the yarn itself and the fabric it creates once knitted. That using a different stitch pattern can change the drape and flow of the fabric significantly is an addition level of complexity Iím still working to master.
It was a full moon today, but it didnít really feel like it Ė often on a full moon everyoneís a little wacky, a little crazed. I had minimal contact with other people today, so I was only aware of my own tension, which I donít feel is directly related to the full moon. I need to know if I made it to the next round, if there is still hope of getting out of here before too long. I canít really begin to describe how unhappy I am, just with the job alone, never mind everything else that is unsettled.
Swing high, swing low. This morning I order a new iod, impulsively, not realizing it was the first day they were available. I was just psyched about quadrupling my storage capacity Ė and the metallic purple housing! As a distinct counter to the sweet anticipation of the iPod was the terrible commute home after a truck mistook the parkway for a commercial roadway: it took more than 2 hours to get home. And in a final mixed bag of good and bad: I prepared my resignation letter. All it needs now are actual dates. This feels like a full moon!
More Frippisms seem to offer practical perspective as I continue to work and wait through the interview process for a job that would return me to the city and academia. First, ďA test of our understanding is whether we can apply it in practice,Ē applies equally well to both my attempts at a Zen approach to life in difficult times and my professional attitude at work. And then, this gem, which reminds me of me real purpose for writing here, never mind the last year of rants and bad feelings: ďJust below the surface of our everyday world lie riches.Ē
As I sat in the meeting I was completely underwhelmed by the level of understanding of why they were here and all but overwhelmed with the need to shout: I KNOW THIS ALREADY, IíM NOT STUPID. Iíve been in this conversation before, right down to the same vendor but a different sales weenie, but management here decided on other priorities. I have to admit, the sales attitude put my back up. Do they not do any research on the company or person theyíre presenting to? Is the default assumption that prospective clients who ask for their services are absolutely clueless?
Although it was a regular, crappy Friday at work, it did have a terrific end. It was another Knit-In night at my LYS, and the shop renovations look good. An evening of conversation and knitting is always a good way to end the day. Driving home, I saw the harvest moon and although it was only three-quarters full tonight, it was spectacular: huge, low, and amber. I hauled G out of the house for a quick look-see but in just a few minutes it had already risen too far in the sky, looking smaller and losing its warm, friendly glow.
Driving back at night from a dayís adventure on the mainland, with Led Zeppelinís Houses of the Holy absolutely blasting on CD with the car windows open as we are flying down the expressway Ė I suddenly feel as if Iíve shed twenty-five years. I remember driving the back roads of Plainwell in the Aspen, with WLAV screaming from the speakers, with the windows rolled down in February, coming back from play rehearsals, band practice or after the football game. It is a glorious end to a glorious day and I want to feel this young and alive all the time.
Iíve always loved Sinatraís album, ďIn the Wee Small HoursĒ Ė particularly the title track. Likewise, in the Babylon5 universe, when the ďHour of the WolfĒ was mentioned, the hour between midnight and dawn when you canít sleep because youíre worried about something. And Nighthawks, from either Hopper or Waits. Thereís something about the late night, about the time of last call, that draws me in. Every year, I wake up at that time, the anniversary of my birth. Iím not necessarily worried, but it is one of my favorite times, when the world around you is asleep and youíre not.
Iím ignoring the piles at work. Thereís no rush, it isnít as though there is anything of real significance to occupy me when the busywork is done. Iíve got so much stuff that is already backlogged for months now with other people, waiting for their review or action before I can continue, that it is just stupid. So I find ways to amuse myself without being too obvious about it. Like writing these words, it happens most of the time now at work, which I once would have found impossible. But massive boredom can provide a path into absolute focus.
There are days when events around me have me shaking my head in amazement, wondering why I even bother trying, as nothing will make a real difference. Then there are days when I feel just flattened and quashed by how completely I (or the role, I canít quite tell) has been, and is being, marginalized by those around me, those above me in the department. Rarely, there are days when my knowledge and experience is valued, I feel validated, generally via discussions with outsiders, not those at work. And on a real banner day, I get all three in one.
After a recent radio interview about Robert Pirsig and ďZen and the Art of Motorcycle MaintenanceĒ I am tempted to reread the book yet again. Lacking the time (although not a copy of the book), I instead review the Frippisms file yet again and discover this one: ďThe quality of the question determines the quality of the answer.Ē And the thought immediately segues into the questions ďWho are you? What do you want? Where are you going? Who do you serve and who do you trust?Ē Yes, the quality of the question and the answers; must consider carefully for tomorrow.
After an extended day, I arrive home from the city via train feeling good. Listening to interesting bits on the iPod, knitting away (almost done with Rivolo) in a comfortable seat, I am relaxed and my back doesnít bother me. Even when the drive home is straightforward, I squirm in the driverís seat. Is it the fact I wasnít sitting at the computer all day, even though I was sitting a lot? Or that I wasnít in that place all day? I canít imagine that it was just because the third and final round interview seems to have gone well.
The fall crocus and colchicums greeted me in the garden tonight as I walked from the car to the door, peeking through the debris of daylilies and weeds. I can hardly bear to look at the rest of the garden, knowing it has been unattended all summer and is in a terrible state. But the resilience of plants is both a good thing Ė the fall blooming plants are starting to do their thing Ė and a bad thing Ė the weed will be extremely difficult to remove, having had all summer to settle in. I have to accept both, yin and yang.
Pierce at Joesí Pub Öwhat can I say? Iím so delighted that I went, that Di enjoyed the show, and never mind the wet noodles in the audience who clearly werenít into the spirit of a Pierce Turner show; the audience was too quiet by far. Twenty years on, the songs still strike a chord and yet still sound almost timeless. Yes, there are thoughts of Spil interwoven with the songs, particularly ďHave You Looked at the Sun (Lately)Ē but the memories are all happy this time around, Iím able to see the past through the kaleidoscope of Pierceís music.
So close and yet so far away! I hate finishing a knitted garment only to discover that when the pieces are assembled, it doesnít fit. Of course, I had hints along the way, suspected that this happen this time. Iím so used to thinking it wonít fit, then making it a bit bigger, only to have it be too big in the end, that I decided to follow the pattern exactly, no deviations. Now, the fact that the sleeves are actually too small has stunned me and Iím unwilling to frog the sleeves immediately. Must finish something first for encouragement.
I know I canít hold my breath, but I want to, for a little while anyway. I donít want to do anything to disturb the universe, which seems to be moving me towards this new job. I want it to continue on its path, moving as steadily as it has all month. Weíre cautiously optimistic about it, but Iíve been a finalist before without getting the prize. If it all comes together with an offer that is acceptable in terms, then Iíll let go and scream and cry, like when I got the email five years ago about my certification.
Contemplating this monthís musings on topics such as Zen, transcendental meditation (hey, I wrote ďmedicationĒ the first time around Ė do ya think thatís significant?!?), full moons and monthly rituals, it seems clear that the spiritual core that has been dormant for so long is reawakening. Iím afraid to try to actually ďdo somethingĒ to accelerate the process, I think it needs to take its own course, building speed and mass in its own time, until it becomes an irresistible force in my life. That doesnít mean Iíll ignore it, or the small ways I can encourage it. ďThe Sleeper awakes!Ē
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