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Determined to start the new month with an improved attitude, I decided to celebrate that it's summer and that I survived another week at work (and mid-year reviews are over!), so at Starbuck's on the way to the train home I ordered a mocha malt frappe instead of the usual non-fat chai. Frozen coffee drinks with a hefty topping of whipped cream are just the thing for subway rides on hot, rainy Friday afternoons. And I didn't stop there: rather than scavenge through leftovers while being productive at home, I went to Trio for dinner, my home away from home.
Continuing my pursuit of summer, I drove to the North Fork this morning in search of raspberries for making cordial. I was too late, only one pint was to be had, but the bounty of summer was evident in ripe to the touch peaches, blueberries and gooseberries. I bought them with no particular plan in mind. The sun shone brightly on the North Fork although it was a dingy, grey morning elsewhere on the Island. They get more days of sunshine here, and the quality of the light is different somehow, as if you were living inside a Sargent watercolor.
Cobbler was the obvious choice for yesterday's peaches, to be shared with the neighbors this evening, but the berries required some extra thought. There was no time for a trip to the store for the missing ingredients for a berry buckle or a crisp recipe I've been meaning to try. Supplementing the mixed berries with bilberry nectar, elderflower cordial, a touch of vanilla and orange peel, I made a cobbler too good to share while still warm. I really like working with a basic framework of a recipe but changing it drastically based on what I actually have on hand.
Who would have thought I would have fun at a golf course? In large part due to the particular company I was with, it was still something of a revelation. I helped our team win the trophy by staying off the fairway - convinced to give it a try, I stepped on the green and everyone's balls went every which way but to the hole; when I left the green, regular golfing resumed. Driving the golf cart barefoot, a gin in tonic in my hand, was interesting on the very rugged and hilly course and definitely worth the mild sunburn.
RIP - Casper, the friendly dog. A beautiful golden retriever with the sunniest disposition and an amazing understanding of English, he would do everything and anything asked of him by anyone who had been approved by his master. He would even control his breathing, going from panting to quiet, closed-mouth breathing with the proper request. He loved to carry bottles - full wine bottles - in his mouth and chew on aluminum cans. Casper was one of two dogs I've known who was more of a person than many people I've met. His family of bipeds will miss him greatly.
"Temptation. Frustration. So bad it makes me cry." Not even blatant verbiage this time, just a single mention of the scenario. It sets me off, perhaps not as badly as last year, but more than I would like to admit. I again become a spirit on the threshold, poised to completely throw caution to the wind and see what happens, knowing rationally that the outcome will be unproductive at best, a painful disaster at worst. Having taken that chance, having proven myself vulnerable and acknowledged it to him, he does not take the next step, but retreats behind various excuses.
I almost missed the announcement. An opportunity, it said in my favorite knitting magazine. Intrigued, I went online to find out more, only to be disappointed by the outline of the concept. But it proved to me that underneath everything else I would like to find an opportunity, an alternative to working such insane hours every week, commuting into the city, being yanked around by others. Preferably in a field that's more directly related to artistic expression than my current trade. And quite possibly somewhere else altogether, should I be able to find a smaller town close to the water.
After listening to Neil Gaiman read from his new book and waiting too many hours in line to watch him sign my copy, I take myself to dinner. As I sit alone in a decent French bistro within the glare of lights at the site of the World Trade Center, I silently take inventory of my life. I have not been in this neighborhood for two years, deliberately. Drinking a very subtle and pleasing red wine with hints of freshly turned loam, raspberries and coffee, I think of absent friends. Helene would love this place; Thela would love the wine.
In search of a ride to Penn Station last night, as the brilliant white lights of The Site beckoned I noticed a familiar metal enclosure paired with green lanterns indicating a subway station. I cautiously descended the stairs of the World Trade Center station of the E train. Everything was so painfully, obviously brand new, so clean, it was jarring. There was no one else in the station as I went through the turnstile, walked down the platform. Echoes of the ghostly Underground station in Gaiman's Neverwhere ran through my head while I searched for the car with the conductor.
Contemplating many things, such as the comment Rob made that if I did relocate to Orange County, a sixty mile radius would provide many, many different people with which to socialize, whereas a sixty mile radius of Suffolk coiunty provides...just Long Island. Point taken. Still wondering what the options are for getting out of reporting to an office every day of the work week...am I ready for consulting? What about other careers altogether? Am I willing to take on the risk of my own business, assuming I can ever figure out what to do? Baking bread and desserts? Designing knitwear?
On the train this morning, listening again to that Crimson song that just seems to be the key to my soul, I find myself wishing for a way to make it happen, to open myself up to a different world, one rich with possibilities. Thinking of last night's movie Alien Hunter with James Spader, drifting to thoughts of DragonCon and the people who go to such events as I watch early morning blue sky with wisps of clouds being revealed as the low, dark grey clouds slowly drift apart and scatter. DragonCon is for dreams; I hope to dream big.
Under the full moon, the Wizard and I again meet in a purely digital exchange. Two aging radical individualists mellowing, becoming more traditional, yet increasingly disillusioned and unable to find a partner who loves the true personality. Someone other than each other, that is - orthodox beliefs stand between us. His prospective mate doesn't understand his more abstract qualities, so in his hours of true need he turns to me. I want to howl at the utter wrongness of it all. My soul bleeds at the thought of all the beauty of his soul, wasted on someone who can't see it.
The question appears for the second time in two weeks. This time I give some thought to my answer, it's not something that has been on my own radar. As the answer spins out from me, I realize it is a damn fine answer, and the universe decides to lend me some synchronicity, dropping a website and an article in my lap, further strengthening my reputation as someone who can answer any question. Providing answers, that is what I like doing, dealing with the initial research, testing the when theories from all sides until there's a workable solution within reach.
Late in the evening as I sat amid my pile of newspaper on the cement platform, watching the almost full amber moon rise in the east over the Woodside LIRR station structures I thought not for the first time that we were all very lucky with the weather. In a summer full of rain, it had been a dry day, and the nighttime temperature was reasonable for August. With absolutely nothing else to do, the city in darkness I decided to metaphorically gaze into my navel and scrutinize my life - isn't that what events like this are really for?
Blurry from lack of sleep and the ordeal yesterday, I nevertheless try to take care of a few things, as a way to not obsess about the thoughts and ideas that cycled through my head in the long hours on the LIRR platform. I'm just not in a position to take action right now. I believe there is a reason every member of this bloodline has worked a variety of jobs or ended up making their own way, doing their own thing. I have managed to be part of the normal working world longer than anyone else in several generations.
The pool this morning was a return to normal routine. I love going in the morning and wish I could do it more than once a week. The regulars all know me now, I am one of them, and its a more social crowd than on the train, perhaps not surprising now that I stop to think about it. I am trying to work up to actually swimming laps as half of my workout, but that will take another few months to achieve. Working on flexibility and control is still the primary concern; strength and endurance are coming along naturally.
More serious digital conversations with the Wizard, with some interesting results. He was again a dweller on the threshold this afternoon and evening, so it seemed the best possible time to be completely honest about a number of things. Especially after all the hours spent thinking about my life during Thursday night's odyssey. I do not expect this to change anything between us, not really, but perhaps it will allow each of us to be even more our true selves with each other. We both wear certain masks in society that allow us to function within its limits of tolerance.
An unseasonably crisp, cool overnight and bright morning sunshine somehow create perfect conditions for pockets of mist to linger over the many waterways that line the railroad's path along the South Shore into the city. There is a quality of raw, undisturbed nature in those brief scenic moments that belies the state of modern development in this area. It makes me wonder, really wonder, what the Island was like when it was first settled by the Europeans, or at the turn of the last century, before it was overrun by rude people, cars, trains, power boats and West Nile Virus.
The recovery process from Blackout 2003 is finally at an end for me; not a moment too soon. Although all of our IT systems were recovered by noon on Sunday, three telephone circuits were dead, leaving us without our primary phone systems. We were able to reroute some outbound circuits but we had no control over inbound numbers. After many, many phone calls and two displays of royal temper the lines came up, only twenty minutes after the last display, which happened for a director of the NY Verizon field office. Whatever it takes, baby, whatever it takes.
"Lunch with the girls". Five women who have spent time in the trenches working for the company, although two have moved on. After some initial tale telling of recent events, including the appallingly inconsiderate behavior of the CEO during the blackout's first hours, we moved on to babies, weddings, engagements, birthday parties. They all have a social life and significant others, I'm the odd woman out on that score. My contribution was minimal, limited to a small update on the Wizard and explaining about the upcoming Dragon*Con. Thela is right, I'm surrounded by the activity of others, but never in the activity.
All day I told myself, just one more day, then its the weekend. A small chance to recover, recuperate to restore myself. And then a short week and then six days to myself. I can do it, I can make it. The children's story about the little train that could comes to mind. Of course, I promise myself sleep but the chances of my getting significant amounts of sleep are minimal. I am tired in soul, spirit, body and mind, but the economy sucks and it seems that it will be some time before anything significantly changes at the office.
I decided take a chance and spend more time than I should even at the office to complete the outline of a proposal for a presentation about enterprise infrastructure protection. There is probably not much likelihood that my topic will actually be selected but halfway through the mad dash of documenting what I've done in the last year-and-a-half I realized that I have created a new way to look at my resume. One that might help me actually explain to a company in concrete terms what it is I could do for them based on what I have already done.
The conversation took a left turn and I suddenly found myself trying to explain my world, for a second time, to a friend who is extremely well read but not necessarily a versatile thinker. Why I'm not a good representative of how most women think and act, especially in matters of the opposite sex. My history of relationships and the two significant others I never dated. The values issue, the appreciation of the finer things in life and the disdain for mass-American middle class culture while having been born firmly middle class. All the complications, magnified by living in Gotham.
I spend the day trying to do a few simple things such as getting together the costume for Dragon*Con, but my splinted hand is noncompliant. I wonder what things will be like this year and if anyone I know will be there. What of my favorite Klingon, will he be there? I can see from the site that things have grown and expanded, thanks to the ever-reaching broadband connection of the Internet. Although I will be alone this year, I have a plan and that is to somehow become more of part of the activity, taking a clue from Thela.
It would seem that I have not had quite enough in the way of medical trials this last year. Dequervain's tenosynovitis is the official verdict from the doctor after a morning spent in sheer agony. I do not know how I'll manage to get through general life, let alone the con with this limitation but I will find a way. I have not managed to survive the sleepless weeks and difficult months just to have this defeat me and take away the con again this year. I will find a way to manage both the trip and dress by myself.
Another day spent waiting. You would think that by now I would be good at it, but it seems I still lack patience. When the official splint finally arrives, the thought strikes that it is too bad I'm not planning to be a mad warrior woman at Dragon*con – the big, black, fearsome splint would be perfect for the costume. And then comes the fear that it will be thought simply part of my costume no matter what I do. This could make it difficult to get around the crowded hotels teeming with thousands of convention attendees seeking their favorite celebrities.
Unable to even contemplate typing in the hunt and peck method that I must now resort to, I stare out the train window and watched the landscape pass by. The sun rises late enough now that from my window I can see the pink edges of sunrise becoming a Maxfield Parrish morning over the South Shore. Fighting with the split in the morning is especially tiring, but I've little choice in the matter. The splint now owns my life, which is an interesting change from work owning my life. Still, I would rather own my own life free and clear.
Life is always about choices. Today it is about the choices I must make about going on this trip with only one functioning hand: what to take, what not to take, what I might reasonably expect, both of myself and others. I am running on empty at this point, yet I find or make the time to create an entirely new gown, one that will work within my limitations. Is well after midnight before I crawl into bed, and the wake-up call at 4:30 tomorrow morning will appear shockingly early. I am ready for Dragon*con, is it ready for me?
Dragon*con. I'm home. That's what it felt like, walking in to the Marriott today, the hotel that is science fiction as ray Bradbury said. It suddenly contained a universe populated by Klingons, stormtroopers, elves, fairies, and assorted other known and unknown beings from galaxies far, far away. Somewhere where I am - for a change - frighteningly normal by any and all standards. A place where we can all be kids again for a few hours or few days at the end of every summer. A place to eat, drink and be merry, but not to sleep. Not at Dragon*con.
It was a day and night to remember, and the small moments will forever remain in my memory. The costumes in infinite variety, the beautiful and the grotesque. Richard Hatch walking by and smiling and saying hello to me as he passes. Brian Downey flirting casually, making suggestive comments about body paint. Seeing my favorite Klingon again and getting an invite to the House party, which I never actually found. The novelty of being asked by strangers if they can take my photograph. The delicious sensation of having the corset stripped away from me by a pair of male hands.
And it all came crashing down around me… the last several weeks with almost no sleep and the beautiful excesses of last night and this morning have proven to be too much at last. I ended up asleep, alone, before Brigadoom could start, what a waste! Sunday night at the con and I'm asleep. Did I mention alone?
What was it Thela said? That I am surrounded by activity but not of the activity. I'm afraid today he has the right of it, although yesterday I was most definitely in the activity. I hope tonight's absence is not misconstrued.
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