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Monday, and the start of the month, beginnings all around. An absolutely clean and crisp start, one Iím determined not to waste. Thereís much to be done at work, Iím beginning to see the what and how of it now. Iím also beginning to really enjoy the neighborhood, not just exploring, but know where to go to get what I want. Iím beginning to see signs for the holidays, of various things going on, like at the First Presbyterian Church on Fifth Avenue with its Scottish history. I want to do stuff this year, really enjoy Christmas in the city.
Ah, so my old job at the Local Expansion Team is finally posted on job boards, with some changes that were to be expected. And the typos that are in the text, I took a particularly evil satisfaction in seeing that. The changes suggest that the position now reports to the CIO again, but who knows? I hope theyíre able to find someone who can actually do the job and work with the crew, but perhaps my departure finally caused some changes in how things work and are perceived. I know that is wishful thinking, but I canít help it.
Finally, the grass was crunchy, hard and solid underfoot this morning when I went to the car. This is the first real harbinger of winter for me, a solid frost that coats everything with a thin layer of ice. The train ride was magical, watching fog billowing up in a surreal way from the waterways as we passed, the normally quiet morning commute even quieter as everyone slowly woke up, seemingly still frozen in their own sleeping world. It was a morning to contemplate the coming holiday season and reflect upon the changes that have happened in the last year.
I started my holiday shopping today, for Miss H. I have no idea what to get M & P, or anything new for Geoffrey, but at least I was able to look at her wish list and say Ė Yes! That is a very ME kind of gift. Now that Turkey day is over, Iím starting to get in the mood and Iím thinking about holiday baking. It looks like Iíll really have some time to do baking, but Iím not entirely sure who Iíll be baking for, since we arenít planning on doing Christmas eve in the city this year.
Iím trying to reconnect with the world today, setting up time to meet with the old work in the city crowd, it will be good to see them, even if we have to wait until January. Then thereís Stephanie on the Island, Iím not sure if weíll manage next Friday. I havenít yet contacted Stephanie in the City about getting together, but certainly that will happen soon. Then thereís our favorite real estate agent whoís pinged us, I want to reach out to her, even though thereís no real prospect of buying something right now. Gee, I do have people!
I donít know whether to cry or laugh. Today we finally saw the St. James house that looked so promising from the outside with nice property. And then we saw the insideÖthe upper floors were a warren of tiny rooms, there was no basement, and a previous owner removed a bathroom on the third floor - whaaaat? Never mind that the house once belonged to (but wasnít built by) Stanford White, it wasnít even close to workable living space for us without some serious remodeling. The only things weíve seen that are acceptable as is are beyond our current budget.
Deciding to cast on for knitted Christmas gifts is not a decision to be made lightly. Especially when it is already a week into December before making that decision but Iím feeling confident with all the knitting time on the train. That and selecting simple projects. Iíve decided on a silk/cashmere scarf for mom and a Colourmart cashmere vest for dad. I should be able to finish these items in time to mail them to Michigan. Assuming nothing derails the knitting. This is not denial per Yarn Harlot, this is a carefully considered, deliberate, rational decision. So say we all.
It is great to find truly useful applications of technology Ė like the commuter rail notification service Clever Commute, where commuter rail riders are able to send text messages to others on their line about service interruptions. The rail entities themselves are notoriously bad at advising passengers actually on the trains of interruptions, so to get notice of a problem before arriving at Penn would be fantastic. The success of a service like this is dependent upon the riders, but I can only hope it will be helpful, although Iím a little concerned by the online interface for joining the service.
The Dream Job implodes. I donít quite know how I failed, if I really did fail, or if this is another example of politics at work, politics of which I was somehow sublimely unaware yet still became entangled in, but its over. At the same time I realize that the last month has really been kind of a dream in many ways: I loved the job in part because the people were knowledgeable and took seriously the function of my job. I donít know which is worse, losing a job I loved, or a job search in this economic climate.
Miserable. Hopeless. Frustrated. Depressed. Yeah, that about covers it for today. Iím trying to manage my own expectations, that this isnít something Iím just going to get over, so it is okay to feel all of the above, and yet the ultra-pragmatic side of me is just kicking me in the knees saying ďget over it alreadyĒ Ė I wish I could turn off that voice. It may be the pragmatic side of me but right now, it is also irrational. Unfortunately, that is my ultimate reaction: do something to change the situation. Thereís nothing I can do this time, though.
We head to the Gatehouse today on what we know is a foolís errand, but weíll do anything to help sell the house. It gives me an opportunity to get away from my regular surroundings, and putting weatherproofing film on some of the upstairs windows that lack storm windows is a welcome distraction. I need to do something right now that requires my full attention, that doesnít allow my mind to wander, unlike knitting. Iíve made many mistakes on Dadís vest so far, although Iíve found and corrected all of them (I think), that Iíve not finished the back yet.
Thereís a full moon tonight, one that is getting notice everywhere due to the shortened distance between the earth and moon this month, causing the moon to be particularly large and bright. I am unable to fully appreciate it, however, as my thoughts cannot stay focused on anything hopeful or bright, they are fixated on the loss on so many levels. I havenít even begun to address the loss of pride, of having to tell so many people that Iíve parted ways with the dream job. And exactly what to tell them in this situation without having to rehash everything?
So, what are some things Iíve wanted to do but just havenít had the time to do? Iíd been pondering that for a while even before G said anything. Of course, the list is less than glamorous, but there are some things I really want, or feel compelled to do, both for me personally and for the house. Iím sure the list will go on and on, and probably very little will get done until after Christmas but making the list will probably make me feel a bit better Ė Iím an inveterate list-maker, they help me feel more in control.
The TO DO list (as of today):
-Reorganize the upstairs pantry
-Inventory and photograph stash yarn, post it all on Ravelry
-Photograph remaining Finished Objects for Ravelry
-Clean the porch and basement
-Prime porch window frames (too cold to do now)
-Paint and install baseboard moulding in master bedroom
-Insulate space between floor joists and sill plate
-Clean up garden
-Create garden plan for next spring
-Find a way to kill the mugwort & weeds that have overgrown everything
-Clean the garage
-Calk and seal gaps between walls and trim
-Backup computer files
-Learn Sweater Designer software
-Review monthly bank statements
This morning, trolling the online boards, I am delighted to find a job that is right up my alley, something for which I can comfortably, reasonably, submit an application. And whammo! Ė thereís another one! It makes me feel like there is hope, perhaps I will get a job reasonably quickly, because thereís at least two potential opportunities. The fact that it is less than two weeks until Christmas, however, tempers that hope, as I know that facing vacations and year-end deadlines, I am unlikely to get in for an interview until January at the earliest, assuming my resume gets noticed.
Iím kind of lost right now. A week out from the Really, Really Bad Day ô and if there wasnít an absolute rush to get Christmas gifts finished, I would probably really be in bad shape. I can forget about recent events and their impact for a few minutes while Iím focusing on Getting Stuff Done. At some point, however, the distractions fail and I do think about it all: how long I looked to find that job, the bad economy, the house search (now indefinitely on hold) and of course, my pride. Which I canít seem to find anymore.
I spent the day making two batches of the Nero Biscotti, and I didnít destroy the kitchen. In fact, I hardly got mussed this time. After three years and three times as many batches, Iíve finally figured out how to handle the dough and work with the very limited confines of my kitchen. As I worked with parchment paper, hazelnuts and black cocoa, I briefly considered what it would take to increase the scale of production to a professional operation, and made some calculations on cost required to make a profit. Twenty bucks per pound biscotti seems a stiff rate.
Iím knitting like a lunatic these days, trying to get gifts finished so they can be mailed tomorrow. I do enjoy it, although right now Iím feeling a little guilty about the time spent knitting. Iím not sure why I donít just relax into it, give into the joy of undistracted, undisturbed knitting as it is not as though Iím not doing something I should be doing instead of knitting. Thereís only so much time to spend reviewing the postings for a new job, my spending time looking until my eyeballs feel like theyíre bleeding wonít actually create a job.
This December is shaping up to be my very own lost month. After a morning that simply passed without note, we spent the afternoon watching the snow fly outside while making bean soup and. I knit and knit. It was novel and quite nonproductive. The snow was quite beautiful, and gives me some hope for a white Christmas, but the accumulation resulted in the cancellation of the holiday Knit In party that was my only planned festivity this month. Instead, we stay at home, bundled up, watching the cars fight the unplowed roads, watching bad tv and slurping excellent soup.
Snow! Thereís really snow for this holiday, at least. Having finished the bulk of gift knitting, Iím cast on a new scarf as consolation gift to myself: Iím sick and as of two weeks ago unemployed, yet I need to do something to celebrate Solstice - casting on this beautiful Knitspot pattern in gorgeous Sundara Silky Merino yarn is an act of faith in the Return of Light, especially when thereís been so much, and continuing to be so much snow. It probably wonít last for a White Christmas, but I can still enjoy the novelty of a White Solstice.
Today is the Solstice but Iíve not made any preparations. Iím too sick to clean the house, let alone bake, both of which Iíve always done in some fashion in years past. I will decorate the tree today and find a way to hang the wreath that came without any hanging hardware - that will be the extent of my celebration. Even if I were well, Iím not sure Iíd feel terribly festive, with both of us out of work and nothing on the horizon. Iím just trying to believe that we will survive this, just as the earth survives winter.
So, we even though neither one of us actually has much holiday spirit yet (and at this point I donít think it will happen at all this year) we are trying to establish some new traditions. The first of those (and perhaps the only) is that we have multi-colored lights on the tree this year, the new LED lights that truly are cool to the touch. The tree looks good, even without the tinsel, and I think I will let it stay that way. The less I do now, the less I have to take down and put away later.
I admit defeat tonight, that Iíve been absolutely brought to my knees by this cold. There will be no special Christmas Eve dinner, no freshly baked cinnamon rolls Christmas morning. This will be an uncelebrated, although not unacknowledged holiday. We ordered a pizza tonight from Del Fiore and I know that the leftovers will be dinner tomorrow as well. This is truly shaping up to be a Bah Humbug holiday, and even knowing and understanding the reasons why, I must say that Iím not happy about it but I donít believe thereís anything I can do to change that reality.
It is Christmas Eve, but thereís no holiday spirit in this house. I canít even muster the energy to be upset about it, it is just another thing to accept. The snow, which has lent a vague whiff of holiday excitement over the weekend, is melting in the rain and warm temperatures, so it will not be a White Christmas. Not that I really want to spend winter encased in snow, but thereís something to be said for watching snowflakes dance outside the window as the holiday approaches, and waking to a beautiful blanket of white quiet on Christmas morning.
Todayís blog posting from the Yarn Harlot about donating to Doctors Without Borders really brought home the real meaning of the holidays. We are rich, we are blessed, never mind that weíre unemployed. And sick. Those are both temporary conditions. We have a roof over our heads, we have savings, we have prospects. We have a freezer and pantry loaded with foodstuffs. We have books, music, yarn and watches to entertain us. We have friends and family to support and encourage us. If you can say the same, please donate a little something extra to the charity of your choice.
I feel better today, but a little activity and Iím completely exhausted. I want to be well already. Iíve never been a good patient, once Iím past the stage when youíre too sick to move past the bathroom. The days of watching bad TV while knitting, reading and computing have blurred into a single experience, and I want out of this vicious circle of doing nothing. Iím not sure what Iíd do this time of year, but I want to do something beyond getting out of bed in the morning, which is about all Iíve managed for the last week.
As the news from the Middle East gets worse and worse, I have to wonder if the hoped for Change everyone was so excited about a month ago has any actual prospect of being realized. Not as long as the world is still filled with such undeveloped types as are trying to blow each other up in Gaza. Why donít we just let them? Why must they involve the rest of us? If they want to kill each other in the name of their God and freedom, why doesnít the rest of the world just let them complete their mission?
Iím not quite sure how Iím going to fill my days in the coming weeks. Reading and knitting are great, but are not very active. Itís the wrong time of year for really working in the garden, or trying to do various home improvement projects. There is s a limit as to how much I can bake, even if some of it is bread. Thereís the weekly morning knit-in on the north shore, but that could be too much temptation. What do you do if youíre able-bodied, not working and arenít occupied with chasing kids? Is this what retirement is like?
Driving through Oakdale today, the extent of the Vanderbilt estate in Oakdale surprised us, with its palm house, the stables, the power house, bowling alley and the farm. The idea of raising 3000 chickens in a year seems preposterous until you consider the grand scale of entertaining of the Vanderbilts: 40 broilers were needed in one night. Then consider everything to sustain all the help to run such a place year round. And this was only one of their estates. The townhouse that is currently for sale in what was once apparently the creamery is very tempting but too small.
I have struggled with this writing all year, but this month in particular has been very difficult for me, when all I wanted to do for the last three weeks was run away and be silent. I am happy that I managed to write 100 words each day of the year, but acknowledge that it is not the kind of writing I want to do here in this space. This has been a year of discipline, of just putting one word down after another, where achieving that quota of words has been a victory, sometimes larger than you might imagine.
Watching the snow fly horizontally across the window in a day of unmitigated greyness, it is as though the rest of the world doesnít exist, and we are snug in our own cocoon. With the second half of 2008 having been such a stinker, there is so much that I (and everyone else, Iím sure) am hoping for in the new year. I wonít go through the list here, but I think we all agree on several items, including general world peace and prosperity. Given the gloomy weather recently, sunshine for the next few days would also be quite nice.
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