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The month starts with an absolutely beautiful day, sunny, warm, but not hot. The morning is a slow, leisurely start and a drive to Huntington to get the wedding suit for himself fit. It was the first time she had seen him in a suit, and even though the fit wasn’t perfect yet, the sight took her breath away. Lunch was too much food and too delicious. Even with all the to and fro’ing up and down the roads, it was a relaxing day and she felt the compounded stress begin to melt away. Labor Day weekend – spent not laboring.
It was a day of aborted plans. Clearly, she was meant to go with the flow, whatever that was going to be. Her natural tendency to make lists and plan things, as a way of successfully navigating life (working full time while doing full time grad school; a train commute 2 hours one way to work; a long distance relationship, whatever) was sometimes derailed by life events. She had only recently learned to (somewhat) graciously give herself over to events when this happened. Life has its own plans and schedule, and can be most insistent on getting its own way.
She was really trying to not get behind this month. She’d fallen a bit behind last month, and so played catch-up over the holiday weekend, but was now behind again, from the beginning of the month. She’d taken notes, but not been able to marshal the time and mental energy to write complete bits. That wasn’t playing by the rules, but she’d been bending them for a decade now. The idea was not to give up on this – it was discipline, picking herself back up again and continuing. Incremental, daily failure was an option, but complete task failure was not.
It was by social convention the first day of fall, and rather than being overwhelmed with the return of normal traffic on her local roadways, she was navigating the reconfigured airport. Business trips long ago ceased to be fun or interesting, although this one promised a good dinner at their favorite Mexican place in National Harbor. But the day was cramped, tight, and it was nearly 8 PM by the time they got to the hotel. Arriving at your destination in the evening always meant going to bed late, followed by an early wakeup call, a combination that she dreaded.
You really do find things out about your coworkers when you travel together as a group, she mused. From their packing habits, to who was habitually late, or not awake in the morning and who takes forever in the bathroom – these are the things that you get to know, whether you want to or not. More surprising are the things people share (deliberately or unwittingly, she wondered sometimes) about themselves and the details of their personal life. Eating around the same table certainly seems to lower defenses, particularly when you’re tired and everyone has had essentially the same rough day.
It was a short week, yet she was exhausted. Business trips tend to make the work week a bit intense, and in a shortened week, this trip in particular made for a very intense week, one that was not yet over, somehow. She didn’t understand how could the week be both intense and drag on, yet that was the week she was experiencing. And it was going to be an intense weekend. Perhaps the week was dragging because she couldn’t wait for the weekend – to finally move in to the new house with the kitties, and be reunited with himself.
Cleaning the fridge always was a sign of moving out. It was inevitably one of the last tasks, the day before, or the day of moving out. It was not exactly the way she wanted to spend this Friday night, but it needed to be done. Badly. And it kept her up and moving, rather than sitting. Looking at the collection of condiments, leftovers and assorted bits was an interesting portrait of her life, of the life built with himself. Yeast, slivered almonds, and dried orange peel: hers. Rosewater, maraschino cherries and hot sauces: his. Where did cigars come from?
Fionn was the easy one, go figure; led into the gaping maw of the carrier by his tummy, lured by treats. When he finally realized what was going on, he hissed mightily, but his fate was already sealed. Manxy was concerned when himself picked the cat up, but didn’t even begin to struggle until he was half-way into the carrier, propped up vertically on the couch. A flick of the hands and his back legs went in and the door closed; when the carrier was on the floor, he went wild, trying to break the carrier apart at the seams.
Nothing says Happy Birthday like kitty puke. It was not exactly a special day for himself, with the cats and I just trying to fit in around the new house, tired, upset, and cranky. His presents were delayed courtesy of schedule snafus and mail/shipping delays. At least I didn’t puke, and I managed to find the card I bought months ago. Neither one of us was up to going anywhere, so dinner was Chinese delivered to our door. Glad we’ve found a such good place; we have already had more Chinese here than in a year at the old place.
Coming home to the new house for the first time after work - it hardly seem real. Of course, only the bare minimum of her stuff was in the house, the furniture was hadn’t been moved yet, but she was living there, finally – it was what, only six months after making an offer on the place? It didn’t quite feel like home yet, but it did feel more comfortable – bigger, cleaner, in better shape. Nicer all around. The renovation work on the house may have been completed, but the real work of turning it into their home was just beginning.
Fionn was having a really hard time with the move. He took up residence under the basement stairs on the first day, and every time he was upset, he hid there. The plumber that came today to fix the leaky laundry faucet must have smelled like his big dog, because tonight when she got home, Fionn was under the stairs again, one shell shocked kitty waiting for her, his special human. He wasn’t even trusting his tummy that told him it was dinner time. He didn’t believe he was safe until she reached out and patted him under the stairs.
Getting home from work, ditching stuff (literally and metaphorically) and going for a swim before dinner. That was the dream all summer. A promise made when the contract was signed, that this summer would be enjoyed. Of course, it never materialized for her, staying at the house in Patchogue with the cats while the renovation work slowly progressed. Today, it was sunny and bright, although not terribly warm, but it was enough. She didn’t swim so much as stretch and do water aerobics, trying to relieve specific areas that were feeling quashed and mashed. A promise finally fulfilled – in spirit.
In which Packages arrive, bringing new fall clothing. She always orders a lot, knowing that some things will not fit, others will fit but be an unflattering shape, and others will fit but the color is wrong. If there’s one thing per merchant she chooses to keep, its a banner day. Today was the mother lode: one button up cardi, a tank with matching no-close cardi and an underlayer tank. Everything coordinates well with several work standards she already has, but not too dressy for outside of work. Nothing is too trendy, the shapes are classic and the colors “hers.”
Awaking ungracefully, she was c-c-cold. Shivering. Teeth chattering. She struggled to her feet, thanked whatever gods and goddesses were paying attention for the short walk to the upstairs bathroom and began trying to officially Wake Up. Shower. Brush teeth. Get dressed. At which time himself noticed how out of it she was and pushed her to work from home. It meant she didn’t have to drive and could decide take a nap. She could stay put, drink tea and add or remove layers as her temperature varied. It rose from 96 degrees in the morning to normal by late afternoon.
She was a bit hesitant about the muslin fitting for her wedding dress. White wasn’t her color at all, and muslin will never drape like silk. When she showed Tanya the fabrics she’d selected, a sheer, periwinkle chiffon, with a cornflower blue china silk as lining, she felt Tanya’s surprise and delight. They discussed the sleeve length and how long should the dress be: knee-length, mid-calf, or tea-length? How deep the v-neck? Somewhere along the line, she stopped seeing the white muslin and saw the periwinkle silk. No wonder the little girl recognized a bride-to-be in her pretty wedding dress.
It was a day of laundry. Whites. Darks. Delicates. It seemed to go on forever. She was still folding laundry at 8 PM on a Sunday night, which she hated. Laundry that persisted into the evening on Sunday was like a harbinger of evil – it made it truly difficult to enjoy the last bit of the weekend. Dragging baskets of laundry back upstairs was something she hated. The fact that the laundry was in the basement was a real design flaw in her opinion – that the laundry room had a slop sink only made it barely tolerable in her mind.
Mondays are bad enough without starting the day with a pile on of stuff to do. The client finally signed the contract, now it is go, go, go, go, go so that we can all meet on Friday. Great. And wedding stuff has been piling up that has to be taken care of, like shoes, she hasn’t found shoes that look right. Mentally, she blames it on that laundry that was still in the dryer after dinner last night. She might as well consign the whole week to the dump, she mutters to herself, it bloody well feels like retrograde.
Seeing no alternative, with work for a proposal due that hadn’t even been started, she decided to bite the bullet and stay up late writing. She had written her first proposal all by herself a year ago; that had been very hard work indeed, and several late nights and a destroyed weekend. This go-around was much easier as someone else was in charge of the whole thing, she didn’t have that much to write, to be honest. But she always found the sales aspect difficult and the sections she was assigned were mostly about selling the team to the evaluators.
She had given more information about herself than for any other job, she really was not sure she was comfortable giving that much away. She was not going to back down at this point: the company had to provide copies of the policies referenced in the agreement they wanted her to sign. Megalithic entity or not, the company should adhere to the basic principle of dealing with people fairly. Any attorney would require copies of all referenced material before signing any contract; why should she not do the same? Why should she give away her rights for a contracting job?
It had become clear that this client was going to be difficult to deal with, really not a surprise given the size and reputation of the firm. At the last minute today’s planned trip north was postponed as the contract was not yet signed -- on their side. Supposedly a short-throw gig to start with, it was getting shorter by the minute. The company could only hope the opportunity proved lucrative in the long run, because they were burning away potential profit while trying to get the job. And no one quite understood how they would staff the job appropriately.
Do you like you? What do you like best about you? She realized she didn’t really know how to answer the latter question. Physically or personality? Pondering a bit further, she knew what it was but not how to put it into words. She had always felt she had three different sides; she identified them differently but essentially they aligned like this; LittleGirl/creative, Animal/passionate, ControlRoom/geeky. Often one or the other aspect clearly dominated the other two. But when she could get all three working together, it was glorious. She felt supremely powerful and capable, as though nothing could stop her.
Lyndhurst is always enjoyable. We’ve been going for years; some years I see a lot of things that I like, not so much other years. This was a banner year – I finally saw the right size & color raincoat and had the money to buy it. Geoffrey and I agreed on new artwork for the new house. And then, I found artwork I couldn’t walk away from (Chinese thread embroidery of magnolia blossoms) and he found a metal mobile sculpture he couldn’t leave behind – so we bought each other our wedding presents, something we were apparently both having difficulties with.
What do I like best about myself. It is a little hard to put into words, but it is in that personality bit that is where my creative (music, baking, painting, knitting etc.), geeky (computers, science, science fiction, want-to-know ALL THE THINGS) and passionate aspects all come together. I rarely (these days) get all three firing together at the same time, but when they do - I feel glorious, that I can do anything, and no one can stop me. It is when I feel I am just ME, not that I’m trying to be me, I just AM ME.
There is something about the drive home to the new house that is so much more tolerable. The morning commute will always be a bit ragged and rushed, but the drive home is almost relaxed. It is so much more scenic, it doesn’t seem fair to even compare them. It is experienced at half the speed of the previous drive home. And in a fairly direct route home I can easily swing by medical practices, diagnostic labs, grocery stores, malls, nothing seems that far out of the way. None of it requires circling back on the highway service road, either.
All day meetings can be boring, and the day drags on forever. Especially meetings when you are mostly sitting back and listening, not taking such an active role in the proceedings. These are the meetings that are perfect for knitting, from my point of view. My fingers literally itch to knit at times like this, but while I may be able to knit when listening to podcasts, or when going to seminars, I know I cannot knit during meetings at the office. I want to knit. I listen better, remember more, when I knit. Its a special kind of torment.
She was sure this would be the highlight of the trip for everyone: introducing colleagues from work to the joy of Pepe’s clam pie. It was a little early for dinner, but as the pie arrived, and the fragrance of clams, bacon and oregano wafted upwards, there was a brief, almost reverential pause before they grabbed a slice. It was terrific; she still could not decide if it was better with or without cheese, although without cheese seemed to be the winner for the others. And since everything balances – the hotel they stayed in that night was a real disappointment.
It was a short day at work meeting clients, followed by a long trip back, and none of the travel time was spent knitting, an absolute waste. Arriving home in the evening, there was no rest for the wicked, not tonight. After a quick dinner, she moved on to the task of packing up and cleaning, preparation for the real long day that lay ahead. It couldn’t all get done in an evening, but for as long as she had energy tonight, she would pack and tidy. Anything that needed sorting was going to have to wait for another day.
The law of averages had to kick in sooner or later. How many times had she moved in her life? In and out of the college dorm rooms every quarter, and to several different apartments in the city. She had moved in the heat of summer several times, despite efforts to avoid that reality. Once or twice she had moved in snow, which was a very different kind of treachery. And now, she had moved in the rain. Unfortunately. At least everything got loaded into the truck before the rain started, although navigating a flooded street was an unexpected bonus.
There’s moving, and then there’s the inevitable moving furniture around the house that happens the next day. And the day after that. Sometimes it takes months to figure out what goes where. But they had been thinking about the furniture placement for months, while actually in the space where the furniture would go, not just imagining and remembering the space. They hoped this would allow them to avoid the constant and repetitive furniture shuffle, but despite their planning, some adjustment was going to be necessary. It was minimal, and by the end of it, they were both a bit sore.
This was not just tired from moving coinciding with sneezing from dusting and cleaning. This was getting sick. Less than two weeks to the wedding and she was coming down with a cold, or something worse. It was going to be a long week under the best of circumstances. She had a business trip this week, back up to Bedford for a day. And the bachelor party on the weekend. And all the wedding preparations. There wasn’t really a choice about taking it easy for the rest of the day when she had to blow her nose every five minutes.
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