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A new month and finally, a new weather pattern: sunshine! No rain today - and none in the immediate forecast - huzzah! It is still cooler than normal, but I've almost forgotten what real sunshine feels like. I will enjoy the sunshine this weekend, finishing off the planting for this spring - there are still seedlings to get in the ground and some herbs to pot. And then perhaps sitting in the back yard for a bit, just relaxing, before the chaos arrives. I'm not looking forward to five weeks of traveling. Particularly the first week: Vegas in June is a bad joke.
Amid discussions of prom, senior trips and banquets from 35 years ago, I felt again that sense of dislocation. It is expected when you're the Ami living in Germany, but not so much when you all grew up speaking the same language under the same president and seeing the same movies and TV shows. When I mention we didn't have senior trips, they look at me as if I was suddenly speaking in tongues. It is clear that they feel no sense of dislocation. Perhaps I feel it more keenly after unexpectedly bonding via phone with a new professional contact.
Confession: I bought more plants today. I didn't mean to, but we went to a flower house after lunch at our favorite place on the bay. Wandering through the perennials, the deeper pink and fuchsia peonies were calling to. Some of my peonies had good (and early!) blooms on them, but they were all so very pale, not like what I had before. I bought some yarrow, yellow and pink, some windflowers, and a shrub for the hole in the border at the street. It isn't the shrub I want for that spot, but I do like the goldfinger potentilla.
Tiananmen Square was 28 years ago? Sure, why not - I will be "celebrating" 29 years in New York in two months. It hardly seems possible. I have often wondered what my life would be like if I had stayed in Germany. Or if I'd moved to Chicago after college, rather than going to Germany. Would I have completed grad school? But what would I have studied?? Certainly, I would not have had nearly such a varied set of experiences. I know, that sounds presumptious at best, but there just aren't the same opportunities and extremes in the midwest. Berlin. . . maybe.
Today, I laid it all out - the issues with TFNG. There was general consensus that we need to do something, and that the next month, while I'm out on the road, would be the proving ground, he will either sink or swim. I am sure what will happen, how this will all play out - though I am not sure exactly when it will all fall apart. And how much collateral damage there will be, meaning how bad this will be for me. Right now, my focus is on figuring out how to survive the next five weeks on the road.
Fifteen years ago I was in England, the Cotswolds, for the wedding of my best friend - happy anniversary, Helene! It was an idyllic time. I met John, John, Diane and Hedley, who is as dangerous a charmer as ever I met. Looking back at what I wrote, I can remember it all, and with the additional layer of memories from my 2015 trip. The world has truly changed since then, it isn't just my imagination. The recent terror attacks in London and Manchester suggest that certain dystopian sci-fi novels may have envisioned our immediate future. Goddess help us all.
Boss lady finally got religion about TFNG. It as if she awoke from a sleep and realized all was not right in her kingdom. I think he's got a case of whiplash now, as he is suddenly hearing the same thing from her that I've been saying - but more emphatically. His attempt to argue that there was no value in the thing she asked for? Bad idea all around - the boss is asking for something: do it. He's in the crucible now, and this next month with her and the CEO will either make him or break him. Good luck!
Looking back to 2010, I'm frightened how little has changed regarding work. I could see the writing on the wall seven years ago. Why have I stayed? Honestly? The drive to work is pretty and the harbor view out my window is quite nice, but that's not worth it. What is it about the work that I am doing? Is it all about the projects (that I didn't want to talk away from then!)? I do understand that need to reconcile doing less professionally in order to have more personally. But I can't hate what work does to my life.
Full moon. Yarn arrived today. No coincidence there, eh? I am delighted with the yarn's colors: a pure, clean cream, Klein blue, an intense violet, soft mallard, light teal merino shifting toward robin's egg blue, and a lovely, lovely heathered blue-green shot through with midnight. It reminds me of the stole I finished ten years ago that I brought to grandma in Arizona, and eventually received back after her death. I suspect since I only have one cone, this yarn will become a new version of that now shredded stole I adored, a cloud of fan and feather lace.
The last day at home. It was a whirlwind, because I'm leaving tomorrow morning at 8:30. Laundry, chores, stuff, all while trying to spend some time with himself. Trying not to freak out. Enjoy the garden, the flowers, the vegetables - the fruits! White currants are nearly ripe! If there was some way to alter the course of this month, to not be so filled with travel, I would do it. But short of just quitting or catastrophic health issues, I am committed to this course, which weekly brings a new city. Las Vegas. Baltimore. DC. And then DC again.
It was almost worth traveling to Vegas to watch Bill see me from across the room, smile and get up to give me a hug. I managed to make him smile and laugh with his mouth wide open, not the polite, small laugh he keeps handy. I did get a certain satisfaction at the confused looks from his companions - you could just see them wondering who the hell I was. He's got to be eighty now, but still quite spry and amazingly sharp, even if a little frail. Will I be so lucky in thirty years? Or even twenty years?
Whatever I was expecting by roundtable discussion - it wasn't this. I keep asking all day - where are the titles and abstracts? What if there are other roundtables I am interested in? And in the end, what a fucking disappointment and waste of my time and the government money to be here: four people who have no idea about my project, and no access to my abstract? I am supposed to get valuable feedback from this? I would like to absolutely throttle the moron who set this up. I am not alone in my frustration, the other presenters are equally pissed.
I am so done with Las Vegas. It has tried to kill me every time I visited, so I swear this is the last time I'll come here. The only reason to be here is for a conference and I am so done with that reason. I coughed so hard last night --for reasons I can't quite fathom-- that I both threw up and burst a blood vessel in my right eye. It is bloody and ugly, and I've got a vague headache. Felt as though I didn't sleep at all last night as I gave my morning presentation today.
Going home always seems faster than getting somewhere in the first place - proof that time is in fact relative: five hours going is much longer than the five hour return trip. Found out today that others think this way too. I don't quite know why it seems that way - is it entirely due to anticipation? Is it because you're so tired on the way home that you just don't care? A combination? Or is it like getting older: time seemed to crawl when I was young, but now the passing years keep going faster and faster. Einstein had it right.
I can't believe I am still knitting Big Purple. I wanted to be done in May. Of course, that assumed I would start it by Valentines day, which didn't quite happen. But until I am done, and I know that the sleeves fit without drooping, or being too tight I feel slightly off in my knitting mojo. Never mind that I just bought several more pounds of yarn in the anticipation that I soon will be knitting again. Clearly, some part of me believes (clings desperately to the hope?) that I will be knitting more than ever, faster than ever.
Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I dreamed of working at a university. I sometimes still think of it, although I have a more realistic -- meaning, pessimistic -- view of life in the ivory towers. Most of them have always needed more cash, but had plenty of time and hours to devote to getting stuff done. But certain institutions, like the one I am dealing with now, seem to be just badly run. A technology center that doesn't have an electronic ticketing system for handling requests? That doesn't provide HDMI cables for conference rooms that they charge for use?
The rain fouled my plans to get the new plants in the ground today before leaving on my next adventure. I know where the yarrow will go, but I am still dithering about the peonies. I shouldn't have bought them both, but I wanted color for next year. Perhaps I can plant one of them over in the side garden...both sides now get a lot more sun. And if the yellow roses that finally arrived in the middle of last summer don't take off and grow this year, there may be a perfect sized hole for a pink peony.
Another Sunday another airport. Another destination. At least the light rail link is straightforward - and free! This time, the flight is too short to get much of anything done. Although I thought I arrived early enough to get something of significance done, it turns out I was wrong. After hustling in the extreme heat to pick up the flyers, the shop was closed. I made the mistake of going to the hotel restaurant. The creme brulee was soup not once, but twice - I didn't eat it. The burger was quite tasty but then I spent the evening in the bathroom.
The symposium and exhibition are smaller this year, by quite a bit. It has been something of a trend the last several years - fewer exhibitors overall and the big vendors have much smaller booths than they did the first year I went - in 2010, I believe it was. I am delighted I don't need to sit in a booth this year, particularly given the attendees this year. I went to the first night social and was appalled to see that most of the vendors booths were empty. No one there at all, so what is the point of the social?
A steampipe explosion rattles the hotel window eight floors up. First responders are on scene in minutes, and people are gawking, taking video with cell phones. More than an hour later, little has changed, the roar of steam still gushing forth from the hole in the ground, asphalt and dirt sprayed everywhere as I walk past, on my way to find a decent dinner. No, more than that, I am in search of a good dinner - it is the solstice. But like the steampipe, my evening is fated to end in a blaze of disappointment. Can't wait to leave Baltimore.
Five years ago we bought the house. Himself spent the summer camping out and overseeing the interior remodeling, I stayed in my house, dealing with the cats and packing up my stuff. The property looked quite different when we bought it: I almost can't remember the sunken brick walkway out front, but I know I hated it. We loved that the backyard was so quiet, a private place, though I didn't love that the entire property was in shade. It seemed like such a large house, coming from my place and yet it filled up rapidly with all our stuff.
Tonight was finally the first swim of the year... although the pool has been open for a month now. Rain, rain and more rain has kept the pool cool and us indoors. But tonight, there is sunshine and the pool is warm. It is quite lovely to bob around gently, which is a good thing, as I'm too tired to really do much of anything else. In the early evening, much of the pool is in full shade, so I don't really have to worry about sunburn, but it is also a very nice way to end a long day.
At the end of a very long day, at the end of a very long week, I am rewarded by my first glimpse of fireflies this year Not in my own yard, but still, it was enough for me to know that they are out and about now. Sometime in the next week or so, I will be home to perhaps see them again, either dancing across the front yard at the edge of the woods, or shimmering by the back fence. I have only ever seen one dragonfly on the property, but perhaps there will be more this year.
What a lost day. I knew I was tired, bone tired, but I thought I would be able to just enjoy a sleepy morning with the rain coming down, but the headache was seriously harshing my mellow. Meds helped enough so that I could have coffee and breakfast, but an hour later, it was clear that another round of meds was necessary. I also took a nap. A late afternoon dip in the pool was slightly refreshing, but I'd already given up on the idea of being at all productive today. Maybe I can manage to knit a few rows.
The first year, the white currant plant has yielded 1.5 cups. Enough for a yogurt tea cake, and some for eating in a salad or in yogurt with honey. I'm rather impressed by the yield, and it almost makes up for the fact that we got exactly ZERO of the sour cherries this year - the birds got all of them, most of them while I was away. They're going after the blueberries and the other fruits as well, so clearly we need to figure out a reasonable strategy for next year that enables us to get the lion's share.
I was ready to call it quits and take three months off, then figure out what to do next. In the meantime, I'd have a proper summer vacation. Take a few days and go visit my parents and Miss Alice. Drive with himself to the east end on a weekday. Lunch at The Lobster Roll. Finally see the museum in Sag Harbor. Garden in the morning and finish off with a dip in the pool. Knit. Sew. Bake. Bond with pussycats. Sleep. Do yoga and pilates. Day trip into the city, maybe even stay overnight. Ferry to Pepe's for lunch.
What the hell has happened to National Harbor? I am agape at the changes in two years: an MGM Grand casino hotel, a MickyD's on the way in, a massive London Eye-like carousel, and a bazillion new chi-chi shops and restaurants. Water taxis to Alexandria, and massive yachts berthed at the pier. There's group zuma outside on the plaza in the evenings with live broadcast on the jumbo-tron screen. Don't get me wrong, I like the new pathways and waterside walkways, but all these people need to go somewhere else. The sleepy, quiet getaway is no more.
Last week at the convention center, I did a lot of walking. When we arrive at the college for this week's conference, it is immediately clear that I am likely to be walking at least as much this week. And a lot of it will be outdoors. These logistics also make it a lot harder to connect with people who are at the conference. We're bussed in from the hotels. And with sessions in different buidings, you don't see people between sessions. This is not how I'd choose to run a conference. I'll have to hustle to make it work.
Once again, we were so ahead of our time. This year, I keep hearing about projects that others are doing now that are the same concept or approach as what we were doing in 2010. This understanding that we were there first --more than once-- just provides additional fuel to the fire to get the current project appropriately published. The project today that set me off is clearly technologists twiddling technology, with little real understanding of the cognitive and human factors issues involved. My real view of this has become even harsher as I see how the technologist's POV proliferates.
I am home. At the end of the day, the week, the month, that is all that matters. I will sleep in my own bed for the next week, with no green flashing light, no thunking on the ceiling. I will enjoy being home - and eating from the garden, which is going full-tilt. Tonight's salad is very home-grown: all the lettuces were fresh cut tonight, with thin-shaved baby carrots and striped beets just pulled from the ground, and a handful of fresh peas. The raspberries, blackberries and red and black currants are all nearing full ripeness. Yum!
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