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A day out of time: the warm air, pure blue sky, dazzling sunshine do not belong to December, but to June. I should work in the garden, but instead I wander the shops of a neighboring village. I'm limp and exhausted from a late night, not alcohol, dancing in the wrong shoes. I find unexpected treasures at the bookstore, an academic tome on Samhain and one simply titled, "Kitchen Witch". This will drve me to makover the one room in my house that is fundamentally flawed. Reading on the porch, I drink up the last fine day of the year.
We only want for the other to be happy - as long as we can understand the how and why. But can we really understand the how and why of someone else when most of us don't understand the how and why of ourselves? Few of us know each other well enough to grasp the current framework of another's inner life, we are caught in the past or in the web of our own miseries and hopes, or one of many other possible filters to true understanding. If everyone remembered the quote "a life unexamined" - and applied it to themselves first...
The low rumble of the big chopper froze me, my heart suddenly pounding wildly. The deep, slow thunka-thunka-thunka sound of the military grade choppers -- not the little bubble frame copters -- still makes me duck, freeze. In Bonn, they were constantly overhead. In The City, the sound is swallowed by the cacophony of the concrete jungle. I rarely heard them on The Island until September. How did I acquire this reaction? News footage from Vietnam, the first use of the big choppers? I have no memories of protests or young men dying, but to me this sound means death incarnate.
I look at the home improvements list, it isn't even complete, already the rational part of my brain says, 'No way!'
"But these are all small projects," says the ambitious Dreamer. "I don't need another set of arms, or more tools. I can handle each one by myself."
"When? Have you figured out how to manipulate time, create a bubble to an alternate universe where time moves slower?" Cool Logic sneers.
"Evenings and weekends; there is little to distract me. I just have to focus," replies Dreamer.
I sigh as the internal argument continues. And so it goes, without end.
Heat shimmers, rolls off me in waves. I'm parched, a land without rain turning into desert; Egypt without the Nile. I drink cool water and for a moment am refreshed, a traveler discovering an oasis, yet the cool wetness quickly evaporates in the warmth of my body. My skin is flushed, warm to the touch. I want to immerse myself in water, to quench the glowing fires, but the water would boil, release a cloud of steam on contact. This heat is unbearable, an inferno inside me and there is nothing to do but to let it burn itself out.
I admit to a longing to smack Helene, partly as punishment, partly hoping it will startle her out of her own circling thoughts. Sadly, I cannot show her how to find acceptance. I can only show her different views of the same truth, and hope she will find the path there. If she cannot accept the full truth of her chosen one, the relationship will fail. Perhaps not immediately, but at some point, certainly. The throes of new love should make us capable of setting aside our insecurities and fears. She seems already caught up in the problems and issues.
I've been granted a free few extra hours, hours needed to recover, to rest. I retreat into my favorite solitary entertainment - a book. Become an armchair traveler to another time or place or a parallel universe. Along the way, inevitably, tidbits of local geography, historical political intrigues or other arcane lore are acquired. A good book is new food for dreams. And the talents that create the fascinating true fables entrance me….Austin, Gibson, Heinlein, Ellison, Gaiman. And even if tonight is only a cheap escape into my favorite, "secret" vice, historical romance, it still will be an evening well spent.
The mall. It sounds so innocuous, so harmless. Yet it typifies so much what is wrong with America. Mass culture for mass consumption - one mall is just like another mall, even the mega malls or the "designer" malls. Immigrants want to fit into America, yet keep their native heritage alive. By the third generation, only the desire to fit in to society seems to remain. With everyone wanting to fit in, no one dares to be an individual. The result: Gap clothes, McMansions, MTV music, SUVs and Escorts, Grisham novels, USA Today and no one minds their manners anymore.
Long fascinated with the concept of his mind that could create such new approaches to problems, today I fell over the edge into the realm of a schoolgirl crush. An interview with him Sunday morning told me about Dumpling Island, which seceded from The Union, flying to work with Star Wars trumpeting from the stereo, a steam engine in the front hall and wood everywhere in the house. Yes, he has the look of eagles, but the character, oh, the individual spirit of pioneer and standards, all I could think was here was someone who would get it. Get me.
Cold, my first impression of the day. Thick frost is everywhere, my last blooming rose surely killed by the overnight drop. The car will have to warm up, time to test the Swedish heated windows, mirrors and seats and find out how much Garrison likes winter.
I always loved the odd sound and sensation of frozen grass breaking underneath my foot on mornings like this - "crunchy grass". Watching my own breath, the billowing clouds created a simple fascination for mornings alone at the bus stop. First frost was always a teaser for the first snowman, snow angel and snowball fight.
Three months. There are days when it all seems so much further in the past, but on other days, it hardly seems as though a week has passed.
The Zen introspection I wore like a cloak for the last two months has vanished. Perhaps it is merely the accumulation of deadlines, such as they are, that has prodded me to a more active and practical state. I do miss it, though, finding the point of wonder in a day's otherwise mundane events. Perhaps the problem is that I didn't have a moment of wonder today. That would be a pity.
The moment of wonder lasts all day today, perhaps making up for yesterday. It began with a simple invitation to my company to join a working group. Executive corner was in agreement - someone had to attend. I was the likely, if not only candidate.
Will I see him? Will he be there? I ask these two questions all day, expecting the universe to answer. It becomes very difficult to concentrate on work. I am worse than a schoolgirl.
I go to bed dreaming of a BMW gliding through traffic, transiting gears smoothly controlled by his hands, NPR on the radio.
A very long (22 hours), very glorious day, fueled by coffee, chocolate and vodka, in that order as the day progressed.
He was there - RAH! We did not glow much, but the CIO from his company may have caught on to something.
Then, John Paul Jones and King Crimson - what can I say? Arguably, the finest concert I've seen. Perhaps still riding out the day's earlier reactions, I was riveted by both the evening's Stick bass players. One glorious in tank and tartan kilt; the other, tall, silent in black, devastating. I'm jealous of the Stick they cradle and embrace.
The world conspires to keep me awake today, and the memories of yesterday remain freshest without the separation of a night sleeping, dreaming. Work intervenes, bringing new issues and possibilities. I don't know if I'm excited or not, if the layers of exhaustion masks that reaction, or if my disappointment over this detour - not altogether unexpected, and needed at some time if I'm to achieve the final End Goal - is more than I acknowledge.
At the party next door tonight, it becomes clear I live between two worlds - neither suburban married, nor city living single, I belong only to myself.
After three years I'm still surprised at the small town- ness of these little hamlets and villages on the south shore. It hardly seems possible that such helpful and friendly people can work in retail this close to the city. And then I realize, it is only close to the city to me, not them. Drivers who gesture for you to slip in to traffic ahead of them - even when it's not Christmas. You must be in one of the hamlets proper, not on one of the main thoroughfares that connect them to experience these small displays of civilized good manners.
King Crimson and cleaning house go well together. It's a difficult combination to find, cleaning and music. I wouldn't have imagined it, but the whirling dervish, spiraling, post-industrial rhythmic melodies that glide ever forward are great at keeping a body in motion. Yet I have no difficulty sitting in a comfortable chair and listening to the same music, quietly grooving inward as the universe calls to me. I am quite enamored of "The Deception of the Thrush" these days, the shimmering, hauntingly beautiful sounds of Trey's Warr guitar sound to me like angels weeping. I feel an obsession coming on…
I'm home and I'm not drained. Starbuck's accidentally supersized my chai and that seems to have recharged me. For once, I have the kind of evening I always plan on - a decent dinner hour in the Uncharted Territories, all household chores completed, and then a retreat to the library. By candlelight and KC, I work on various projects and the cats join me, each curled in their own chair. The library has become my own little cocoon, tucked away at the back of the house. After three years, it is finally a room I can enjoy on nights like this.
I've done it now - committed myself to walking through the doorway that appears to be open. I won't know for a few days yet if I've made it through or if I'll bump my head against the transparent door. Regardless of what happens, things at work will never be the same…I'll know clearly who stands with me and who is against me. I don't believe there is a middle ground: you either give me the opportunity to succeed or fail on my own, or tell me that you don't believe in me and never give me the chance to try.
I am, at the least, predictable in my obsessions. I now have KC loaded onto the laptop at work, more albums on their way to me and I cannot stop humming their songs (interesting, given the band rarely plays your normal melodic line). KC is now being heard 24/7 in my head. Equally predictable, I try to find some deeper meaning in this obsession: college nostalgia, a desire to start playing again, a talisman to get me through the last week of shorter days until the solstice…but I fear it is something less complicated, far more basic in its essentials.
A rush of a day - trains off in the morning schedule, lightning bolt trip at lunch to the upper west side to stock up on coffee for the holiday season, finishing documents and details at work, then shopping for the party. There is no end in sight of things to do for the Winter Celebration Brunch on Saturday, yet the days after that see far away and rather empty by comparison. I make lists, double check them and like Wright's Mile High Skyscraper, on paper it all seems possible. All the while "Deception of the Thrush" lurks in my head.
Happy Solstice! A day of changes. And despite my best effort, work impinges on the day. The morning is gone, consumed by phone calls, but the door is clearly wide open. Because of this, I am still cleaning, not cooking, when the Solstice arrives at 2:21. I manage to stop to have an appropriate solstice dinner at Trio, a solitary figure among the groups of holiday parties. Although the staff is accustomed to my presence, I attract stares from all the other patrons. One is not supposed to be alone at the holidays, or at least, not alone and celebratory.
It was a groovy Solstice party - RKC actually made it by early on, a pre-party visit. And everyone who said they'd come actually did show, a first. I didn't check with anyone this year, decided that no response was probably a No response.
House reached peak capacity around 1:30, just before the official end of the Solstice day. Only three bottles of champagne and two pots of coffee consumed, but I wasn't severely inundated with leftovers. Conversation went everywhere, WTC to my days at IFA. A happy, relaxed party day for me - once I got over the coffee cakes.
I'm at loose ends today. I wander aimlessly and the day simply escapes me. I can't remember the last time I didn't nothing for a day. It feels awkward - I don't even have an idea for something fun I want to do.
The weekly update with my parents tonight leaves me shell-shocked. I was the topic of conversation over the family dinner today, specifically, the lack of a significant other (or even a non-significant other) in my life. And more surprising, the family came to the same conclusion, matching what West told me years ago: that I intimidate most men.
I wrote the Annual Report this morning while listening to KC- a total departure from tradition, which requires holiday music. The year in review looked slightly bleak and empty, though it was rather the opposite, it's just that everything significant happened in the second half. Truthfully, I was barely alive the first half of 2001. Dave's decision to leave me left me paralyzed for weeks, crippled for months. It wasn't until June that I came back to life. Helen told me tonight she was worried about me back then - I didn't know it looked so bad to anyone but myself.
For the first time in many years I'm celebrating Christmas out east and not alone. I am so used to being on my own that it was, at times, almost disconcerting. Helene and I have never shared this holiday, she's always been off with her current involvement, if we were even in the same city. As it appears rather likely that this may be her last year stateside, it was doubly special to share it with her.
The various presents were well received all around, thought the usual few went AWOL in the mail, more understandable this year than most.
A picture tells a thousand words, isn't that the saying? One picture can bring heaven or hell or both. It can reveal heretofore hidden details, and it can mask the particulars you are most interested in discovering.
This one photo delights and devastates me. I can't put it down. I fear it could be my own personal 'Indiscipline': "I played silly little games with it, like not looking at it, and then looking at it, to see if I still liked it…I DID." I pore over it, fascinated, but it's not enough to ease this added torment amidst my obsession.
It turns out I didn't have to wait too long to find out that the door is wide open. I shall have my hands full, more so than I thought, if today is any indication of how things will be. I will need to find a certain balance to pull this off, to triumph and make it seem as though I'm not trying, which is what I want. I want to make it look easy, as if this is what I was born to do. If I try for that, then I might actually succeed where so many have failed.
I feel the crunch of two days vacation time spent working at or for the office. The two major holiday projects I had planned for these twelve days, upgrades for Garrison and finally repainting the bedroom, are likely to go unfinished as I must take some downtime. Sleep late a few days, see a couple of movies, read at least one novel. Where did the year go? I have a stack of unread books of the "serious" nature (I have to be awake to read them, unlike a romance novel) and I never did start playing flute again this year.
Time. There is never enough of it. Trying to balance the desire to accomplish, to finish a project with the need to do other things. A preview of the year to come, I'm sure. I manage today by breaking up the day into two hour segments, two hours scraping, two hours cooking or whatever needs to be done. Then on the second round, I spend 2 hours doing something designated as 'fun' - hey this is vacation, right? Learning to pace myself, to keep things going on all fronts simultaneously. The Field Marshal will finally have an appropriate field of engagement.
The last of the Technomage books surprised me in a wondrous way. The secret to releasing the powers of the tech is to visualize an empty spell. A tautology to be sure, to the logical mind, but the right side of my brain loves that. I grasp the concept, hold it to me as though it is a message just for me, or contains the answer to a secret. It is little more than a riddle, but still a beautiful new twist on an ancient Zen postulate, one that a spiritual technogeek like me takes up as a new truth.
This was not a wasted day, I repeat to myself. I found a book that will serve me well as I expand beyond my established patterns of small rituals and celebrations. I'm tempted to get a coffee table just so I can keep my oversized reading stack in plain sight. Reading, playing music again, baking bread, these things I want to pursue in the New Year, but they will all consume hours, hours I don't feel that I have. They're locked away somewhere, buried treasure waiting for me to find them. It is a search without map, key or guide.
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