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It seems the universe wants to know what I am up to and the only way it can be tracked is through these little lagniappes. So be it, I shall try to keep pace with the swift current of events that eddy around me and still make time to scribble random thoughts and histories.
The big news today is the confirmation of what I declared on Friday, that Blackrock is out. Seems I was either too nice and gentle (theoretically possible, I suppose) or, translated by Alan, I wasn't "political" enough. They're right, I'm not known for my brown-nosing talents.
Everybody Roomba! It arrived! Hurray! I'm so excited. It just shows I'm an ultra-super geek, being transported to heaven by such a device. High-tech and house cleaning combined, how can it get any better? Will the cats be terrified, or convinced it is a toy for their personal pleasure? I can hardly wait to try it as using a regular vacuum bothered my back even before I tumbled down the stairs last week, but the need to charge batteries and get the rooms ready for the little scooter means I will have to be patient for a few more days.
The weather today is soft and whispers in my ear, "spring... spring... spring is coming." It is warm and slightly damp and the splash of yellow from the daffodils in the local deli at work shouts to me, "SPRING!" The delicious scent fills my desk, and every time I'm brought low today by the idiots and lunatics of the asylum, I just close my eyes and breathe deeply, imagining I am in some hilltop meadow somewhere very far from here. It works so well, I buy three bunches for Geoffrey so that he can experience the same aromatherapy at home.
Another "Rah! Go Team, Go!" meeting that leaves us wondering just what is different this time around. Changing the department name is a meaningless thing, and the attempt at a cute name for the whole scheme falls flat at the feet of the intended audience. Everyone here is tired. Some have been doing this for two years now, but there are those of us who have been subjected to this intensity, whereby every task is crucial and there are never enough resources, since 1999. Sparky just doesn't understand that what is new and exciting to him is not to us.
How little can I do during a whole day at the office? Without meaning to, I get a reasonably accurate answer today. Writing emails, browsing JJill.com and job sites takes up a large chunk of the morning. A vendor who wants to start doing business with us again provides an opportunity for a long lunch, followed by an hour of Friday afternoon cleanup for the team. I buy a round at Starbuck's for the guys, and then finish off the Employee Satisfaction Survey with a very sharp commentary on senior management before sending it on its way before five o'clock.
Not much actually happened in the first two months of the year, at least, not much that is fit for public consumption. There was the usual nonsense at work resulting in renewed vigor in the job search and a couple of interviews that were good practice but amounted to nothing. The trek west to Kalmazoo for the January Picnic (a traveler's nightmare; don't ask, and I won't tell) and the meeting of the parents. Car repairs. Leaking radiators. A successful Valentine's Day, even if not the utter romantic fantasy we might have each quietly dreamed of.
A Sunday spent idling on the couch, reading the New York Times and watching various bits on television. I'm not good for much else, as I'm battling what appears to be the stomach flu. Himself was all gentle kindness, trying to feed me or, at the very least, keep me hydrated, something of a losing battle for a while. Minus the stomach flu, this kind of weekend day, spent entirely in PJs with daydreams fueled by the Travel section, seems completely indulgent. I need more of this. Just don't ask me how to fit more of this in my schedule.
Talked to Helene this morning for the first time since Christmas, I think. No, Duh! We saw each other when she joined us for the January Picnic, a whirlwind 24 hours. Email is fine for blips on the radar, but conversation about real things needs to be in real time. Unfortunately, we have not managed a real conversation in real time, either we're at work, on the road, or limited by the presence of men. Even if I could slip away for a weekend in England (ha!) I don't know how we'd manage to spend enough time in conversation alone.
The overnight and morning hours are filled with bizarre dreams, probably a direct result of yesterday's conversation with England and the email from West about Spil.
Are you still out there? Are you reading this forum still, occasionally, when you wonder about me? Or do you never think of me, determinedly blocking off everything here in New York? I still think, "Oh, I must tell Spil!" – like when Geoffrey and I saw Timmy last month at Trinity, he was up from Florida for a week.
You chose this. I hope it doesn't hurt you as much as it does me.
I'm becoming bipolar. One pole of existence is life with Geoffrey in Rye. The other pole is with the kitties at Crimson Tower Palace. I watch myself shuttle back and forth between the two, at ease in both environments, but yet always missing something at the place where I am not. In winter, this is almost acceptable, but what will happen as spring blossoms, when I need to take care of the garden and as he wants time on his boat? I try not to worry about it now, but it is there, wiggling in the back of my head.
Scattered energy. Fractured existence. Fruitless job search. I don't seem to think in whole sentences anymore, just phrases that contain the only essential words required transmit the meaning. I don't have a handle on my weekly finances for the first time in years. I have no regular routine, no discipline, no schedule any longer to fall back on, to even know where to begin with any of the things that need to be done. Piles of magazines and catalogues go unread. This is not a healthy step back from overachieving. This is extreme personal chaos that sets me on edge
After a full day and a full week in the office, I sit down at 8:00 p.m. and start doing my homework, trying to keep my eyes focused on the printed words as I sort through various pages. A volunteer assignment, which will net me nothing but being on the radar, and perhaps, some small acknowledgement when the course module is complete. I don't know quite how the organization works, but I do know that being in their circle is a good thing, it may lead to name recognition, or perhaps, networking on a scale I cannot imagine right now.
So typical: I travel to Huntington for the yarn sale, and none of the yarn I buy is on sale. I am moderate in my purchases this time, but ideas start to flow as I touch the yarn and I could have easily bought three times as much; I know exactly what to do with it. I already have enough yarn for several defined projects, and some yarn that is just to have on hand. It is beginning to take over the library closet. I swear today not to buy any more until I finish five projects currently in progress.
A wonderful day takes a sudden detour with an impromptu lesson driving the stick shift. Three quick, ugly stalls before I even get the car moving and I am done in. I try to explain the frustrated quagmire that is me not quickly succeeding at something and get the usual, "you're smart, you can do this" combined with "you don't have to think to drive." Don't you get it? I think all the time, about everything. This is who I am and why I got this far. I don't know how to turn it off other than through sensory overload.
Ah, yes, Einstein - everyone's favorite choice for comparison. Einstein was indisuputably brilliant, even if he didn't succeed in grammar school. Don't confuse the two states, they are not the same at all. And as I did succeed at school, all comparisons should end there.
The way I was raised cultivated the attitude that you should live up to your potential. If I really am some sort of brilliant, genius type, I am wasting my life. Or, more accurately, wasting my intellect. But if I'm not a genius, then I'm probably doing OK, and the comparisons to Einstein are doubly inaccurate.
Another department meeting that is a joke: he asked us "Right?" 25 times. I so don't want to be a part of this, but at least it does look as though I will be immediately involved in security planning for the infrastructure team. This should mean that the Operations Management crap gets handed off to someone else as I can't do both and it seems Sparky thinks I'm already off Operations, doing security. While it just shows me that he's not grounded in or connected to his own department and staff, I'll push as necessary to make it a reality.
Could it be? An opportunity falls out of the sky, and if not quite into my lap, at least nearby. It is with an organization I've tried to get involved with for a year now, although it is unclear exactly what they need, but now I've got a line to the Man In Charge. He seems to be relatively impressed with our exchange to date, something that often happens outside the warped environment that is my company, but which catches me off guard. Are they looking for something informal, a volunteer, or could it be a real job, for pay?
Walking the hallway at work, I stopped suddenly for a moment, caught by that powdery fragrance that was Grandma B. A bit freaked by it at the time, it made sense later, when I found out that Grandpa B shed his mortal coil today. I am glad that it happened quickly, although he has been slowly deteriorating the last few years. I am even more thankful that I did see him during the January Picnic this year, and that at least he and Geoffrey met. The last thirty years of his life were a marvelous gift to all of us.
Gatlinburg every Easter. Once I could read, Grandpa preferred I be Navigator. I loved the trip, stopping in Berea, or the place in Knoxville with the monster potatoes. We stayed at a campground well outside town in their silver Avion. In town, I'd shop with Grandma for a while, then sit with Grandpa on a bench outside, breathing in the gentle spring air, people watching and listening to bluegrass music. He was able to talk to anyone and was always interested in the artisans in the shops, and charmed waitresses at his favorite restaurants, just as he did at home.
Thirty years of grace after his open-heart surgery allowed me to really know him. He always wore khakis. The ridge on his fingernail from some long-ago injury to the nailbed. He loved working with wood, building cabinets and carving birds polished to show off the fine grain. Photography was his vocation and avocation. He built fiberglass scullboats and took his family on wonderful extended vacations, going down the Mississippi or visiting Egypt. He was unflappable; I don't know that I ever saw him angry or upset until Grandma died. He gave me my inheritance early, the downpayment for my house.
It is so strange not to call Grandpa today. I've been calling every Sunday in the eleven years since Grandma died, almost without fail, even if I didn't always catch him. We might talk for ten minutes, maybe twenty, but never more than thirty minutes. I think that is really why I wanted to be at Geoffrey's this morning, knowing it would pass quietly, almost without my noticing, so I wouldn't be completely at loose ends and dwell on it. Tonight, when I got home, I removed the reminder "Call Grandpa" from my electronic calendar. Somehow, this makes it real.
At Christmas gatherings, Grandpa often dragged out a huge box that had been tucked away behind a chair or plucked an envelope that was discreetly hidden among the branches and ornaments and presented it to someone. He favored brown paper bags as wrapping paper: for my 16th birthday, he gave me a loon he had carved --I couldn't keep my hands off it whenever I saw it-- in a brown paper lunch bag, cushioned by eight crisp $2 bills that he had gleefully crumpled. He loved pot roast with lots of cooked carrots, and pie, any kind of pie.
Transitions. Flux. Being in-between. Neither here nor there. I don't have reasonable control over my emotions today and so I continue to channel Madam LeFarge, my knitting needles clacking furiously at every opportunity. I am glad that even though it was only a simple scarf, that I made something for Grandpa at Christmas. It was always difficult to find a gift for him – what do you get the man who already has everything?! It evolved into a game, finding something of real interest. Another fleeting memory: my first airplane trip was with him and Grandma, visiting the relations in Rochester.
I don't want to imagine that things can get much harder from here, but, regrettably, I suspect they might, given today's events. I don't know what to do for Dad other than to ask questions about Grandpa and his life, trying to get to know the man, the adult, not just the grandfather. Hearing the stories for the first time about his photography career, it sounds as though the young boy who built a diving bell continued having grand adventures exploring new territories in the world using his mind, and I understand better why he was known as The Mogul.
I wish desperately, not for the first time, that Geoffrey were here with me. Talking with him on the phone late in the evening helps for a while, but I realize I am out here without my touchstone. I'm not exactly sure when or how this happened, but there it is. I watch mom and dad reach out to each other, that brief touch of the one who shares your innermost secrets, so different from the familial embrace, from parent to child. Perhaps he could hold me together, keep me from fracturing. Instead, Madame Lafarge continues her work with me.
Back at the Crimson Tower, it is late in the evening by the time I complete the necessary chores. I give up on making any more progress on my homework assignment for Hawaii and give in to the impulse to listen to Sarah McLachlan. I set all the candles in the room burning, their gentle glow protecting me from the dark night. The beeswax scent is so comforting as the album that always unravels me fills the air. Settling on the floor as the kitties join me, I finally have a good cry, one that is probably now long overdue.
Returning home on an early train, I encounter another knitter on the train and the idea of a Knitting Circle begins to form and take life. Resolved to finding a way out of the ongoing "The Office Consumes My Life" rut, I have too many ideas, too many options to pursue. Baking and the Biscotti Nero? Running a yarn shop? InfoSec consultant with Alan and Leslie? Seeking fame and fortune as the purple dragon for the outfit in Hawaii? Or will Dr. Bob and the military-industrial complex come a-calling? The common thread is not going to the city every day.
Going to the Con is a good distraction for this weekend, although it seems to be very poorly attended, by guests, dealers and members. Peter Jurassik evokes Londo without effort, and is as articulate as himself as Londo was onscreen. Many of the Babylon 5 episode titles and bits have been swirling in my head the last week, especially moments from Sleeping In Light, unsurprisingly. Walking the universe with Inge Heyer and the Hubble photographs makes me pause and consider what life would have been like had I buckled down twenty years ago, accepted the never-ending math, and studied astrophysics.
Geoffrey accepts with alacrity the idea of going back to Rye together after I suggest it as a possible option for the day. After a full week's separation, neither of us is ready to end the weekend just yet. While we both do have separate, independent lives, it appears we are both comfortable with each other for days on end, we are not dancing about each other after 36 hours. This is definitely something of a novelty for me and perhaps for him as well, because for all his fiercely proclaimed independence, he seems happy to have me at hand.
I spoke with Cousin Christopher tonight and after some very difficult minutes talking about Grandpa, he told me the most astonishing news. Welcome to the family, Lily Opal. I hope to meet you someday, but in the meantime, you'll have to make do with a stream of knitted gifts and when you're older, books and such.
I've always wanted to be an Aunt, although as an only child its not really possible. And even though it is not the true relationship, I'm claiming Aunt's privileges in this case. Auntie Pooh Bear. It has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
Knowing what I want, that is the key, a lesson repeated by the mentor this week. Once that is clear, I can figure out how to get there, how to make it happen. It was sometimes been bloody hard work, over the course of years, but I managed it. The universe has sometimes helped me, both overtly and covertly. This time, however, my focus is torn between two different spheres, and while I understand quite clearly what I want in one area, the other is still quite murky. I should meditate on that this weekend in the waxing moon's light.
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