REPORT A PROBLEM
Vividly aware it was April Fool's Day, I nevertheless was intrigued by what appeared to be hints at what my job could be evolving into here at the company that shall remain nameless. A series of meetings on security and policy, taking part in a webcast, moving some of the responsibility for operations on to someone else; the day was refreshingly relaxed. I suspect it will take at least a month to move all the crap away from me, but it needs to happen anyway, as I will not be here forever, regardless of what this position actually turns into.
I am momentarily frozen at the mere thought, stunned and paralyzed. It doesn't seem to fit with everything that has come before. I turn it over in my head, to see if there is a different angle which gives a different reaction, but it is consistent. Later, as I continue to ponder the moment, what stays with me is the deeper significance of my reaction. You might say that I have been working toward this moment for a number of years, but hadn't really understood it had actually arrived. And now I am not sure what to do with it.
I want to go to Lake Como and spend my own month by the lake. In April or May, before the heat and swelter of summer and tourists are in full swing. To wake to sunlight filtered through broad leaves and lace curtains. To linger over morning breakfast with espresso on a terraced patio. To swim in the deep alpine lake surrounded by sharply rising mountains. To picnic in those mountains. Of course, there won't be roadsters of that pre-war vintage speeding up and down the narrow roads, but perhaps a Vespa will suffice for me. And himself, of course.
Making cookies with a bright and inquiring boy of twelve who is somewhat starved for attention is an adventure. It is enjoyable, except when he decides to try and capture Finn, the cat who doesn't really trust people, not even me. Conversation careens from subjects he's studying at school, to movies (he hasn't yet figured out that kids and adults enjoy different kinds of movies), the Narnia books, the science of baking and the taste of chocolate with chili peppers and my recent knitting projects. Perhaps the next weekend I am home alone we'll bake banana bread, scones or biscotti.
The full moon overnight caused my windows to glow brightly with a cold white light, lighting up the bedroom during the darkest depths of night, lending the impression that there was a fierce snow blowing outside in accordance with the weather predictions. Instead, I awoke to find the tender green shoots somewhat crumpled by the cold rather than being buried in insulating snow. I am not disappointed by the lack of snow, although some people were foolishly hoping for one last snow day. I am itching to start working in the garden, however careful I must be about my back.
Gone. Today was gone. The meds for a really bad back day wiped out the entire day, almost more worrying than the pain on these bad days. It is the back, the disc, that is causing problems today, not the sciatic nerve trailing pain down my leg into my foot. I have recently realized that the nerve is probably quite healed. I can't give up everything I want to or need to do just because it sometimes causes me this terrific pain. I need determine what causes the pain and to find a way to manage it when it happens.
Retrograde has arrived. Communication is off-kilter, with static on the phone lines, misunderstandings and misinterpretations in live conversation, and conversational threads that are dropped entirely and mail not picked up out of the mailbox. Perhaps because I am aware it is retrograde and I am more cautious and able to see where things are going awry, but I find myself seeking repeated assurances that the intended meaning is received. Even small little bits that are not correctly processed can have significant unexpected results.
There are moments when I am almost reconciled to the idea of staying at my current job (meaning the new security / architecture role) until the consulting venture takes off and I can land there. I know the partners are working hard to put it together, networking and making contacts at truly amazing levels, however, making the sale and getting an actual job is much more difficult, especially as we are a new entity without an established track record. But there are other days when I know I really need to get out of this place as quickly as possible.
I am becoming a true master of managing the fine details. I remembered in the nick of time the errands to be done before leaving Saturday morning. The regular shuttling back and forth causes its own set of problems, of logistics to be sorted out, determining which items to duplicate in both homes, chores to be scheduled and completed. And it has me questioning what is "home" anymore? I say "home" and as readily mean the Gatehouse as Crimson Tower. The word home has come to designate where I will be sleeping on any given night more than anything else.
If you're going to be driving around on a gorgeous spring day and you have a convertible, it goes without saying that you drive the convertible. Unfortunately, as a passenger in said convertible driving around to various food emporiums in search of festive feastables, I got a sunburn. Not at all surprising to me, at noon, I merely wondered how bad it would be by the time all was said and done. Himself suddenly was confronted with the reality of summer and his redheaded tomato and was quite dismayed by the outcome: what would a day on the boat bring?
So, do we have another six weeks of winter? You know: he rose, went outside and all, but did he see his shadow or not?? What's the verdict? (Thank you for that one, Jason!)
It was a day of decadence: sleeping late, coffee with Glayva-spiked whipped cream, and lots of Good Eats. I managed to not do too much that could be seen as constructive or productive, in keeping with his edict that it was a day for lounging. I am happiest when I have something to occupy myself with, even if it is just knitting or reading a book.
The last month I slipped into a mere recounting of events, perhaps influenced by the change in the time of day when I would write the words I do not want this space occupied by such pedestrian scribblings. It is a time for reflection on the more meaningful things.
In that vein, the ongoing spring rains, although heavy at times, have not yet beaten down the daffodils. Today, the mist was so very fine that you did not feel any drops of moisture strike your face yet you could see the swirling pattern of particles when pushed by the wind as they were hit with a raking light.
I've made a real convert to the lunacy that is Black Adder. Geoffrey and I nearly lose control of bodily functions because we are laughing so hard. I don't think any of Rowan Atkinson's other creations are anywhere near as funny. Humor is a personal thing, and I have never been fond of the awkward slapstick of Mr. Bean or the "unsituational" commentary of Seinfeld. The wicked verbal banter of Black Adder, Monty Python, even the better moments of the Marx Brother are what tickle my funny bone. And I'm slowly coming to appreciate the social humor of The Simpsons.
The current lesson: to be more than just a drudge in service to others, learn how to relax and work hard at making sure my life is filled with happiness and good things. If my goal in life is to have more time for myself to live rather than consumed by the work day, I am not going expend time and energy on opportunities in the city that do not meet certain criteria. They clearly must be very worth my while to continue the city commute for me to even consider them. No more spinning wheels for merely "acceptable" options.
Tax day. Jason's birthday. Mala's birthday. Most importantly, nine years ago, aunt Susie, aka Auntie Rae or Swampwitch, died of liver disease. She was just 50. I have thought about her quite a bit recently, in part because of Lily Opal, who makes Rae a grandmother posthumously. And grandpa was actually a great-grandfather and never knew it. His death is partly why I've been thinking more of Rae, grandmama, even grandma Peck. All those family stories that I cannot now ever discover. Unless I choose to track down the mysterious great-aunt Jane. And start getting more stories out of dad.
After a balmy spring day, sitting on the back porch of the Gatehouse, I start to relax, sinking back into the earth, taking root as I listen to the rustle of nature above the distant din of the expressway. A gift is presented to me for no apparent reason. Inside the bag I discover a pair of beautifully framed tickets for the Richie Haven concert in October. Not our first date, but by all means it is the day when we became a couple. Our tickets, which he saved and framed. I am undone and all but burst into tears.
I tell myself I can hold on for the consulting gig. That it will happen, Leslie has great plans that are coming to fruition. And when it happens, I will have a real life again. But haven't I been promising myself that very thing for years now? That I only need to do this or that thing and life will be better? Between the house and Geoffrey, do I not have a good life, if not exactly the time to truly savor it? Have I forgotten (again) to honestly value and appreciate the things and the life that I am living?
Even with his help in the garden, I am miserable afterwards. At least now someone else sees that I am really not doing much that would obviously aggravate my back. But spring is really here and I want to bring my garden back into shape after two years of neglect. Daffies and forsythia have been everywhere for the last week. Willow trees are becoming streaked with green. Cherry tree blossoms remind me of a girl's party dress, the magenta skirt gently fading to a palest pink ruffle. The weeds are growing faster than the flowers, but all is green now.
Who put together this music? Lunatic Ridge, an assortment from The Guess Who, Ghost Riders In The Sky, American Pie. It is like my personal list of long-lost treasures and I want them to crank up the volume! It seems a strange choice for background music for a technical conference, but perhaps it is some default of the hotel; this is New York, after all. But the more I think about the songs that come up, well, the selections seem too personal, somehow, as though it is a soundtrack to a time in someone's life. Perhaps the summer after graduation???
By the time I leave the conference today, all I want is to be alone in peace and quiet. Spending the day in a hotel meeting room with several hundred other people is more draining than I remembered. I think of San Francisco with trepidation. It will undoubtedly be a more intense and far more crowded event. I am suddenly unsure how I would manage in such a situation, especially one where I am expected to interact with the masses on a regular basis. What will I do if I'm selected? What will I do if I am
I enjoy the precious extra hours of free time, particularly on a beautiful day, splitting the time between doing chores and taking a few moments for myself. The freedom of being awake, at home, during daylight, underscores to me just how little time I am spending at my home. Life seems rather compartmentalized these days, discrete portions spent at the Crimson Tower, the train, the office, the Gatehouse, the pool. Although when I am able to step back, it is like a pointillist painting: the individual dots blur and blend into softer colors and a recognizable picture begins takes form.
Helene said once I would be a good mother: I would ensure that the body received proper health care and nutrition, but I'd also nourish the soul, the imagination and the mind. All well and good, but as I watch the perfectly average, normal children at the other table over dinner, I realize I have no idea what to do with a child who doesn't have a keen interest in art, or music, or books or something. . . serious. There are such adults, there must be such children, so says my logical mind. And I don't relate well to those adults.
That's not to say that I think kids are about "being serious." As himself noted, any child of his is likely to be more than a little, uh, exuberant when it comes to being childlike. But I'm terrified I won't know how to bond with a child past the toddler stage, as they start to develop, unless there is a shared interest. I think of Danny, the boy next door who is bright and curious, and I think, yeah, I can work with someone like that because he is really interested in reading, learning about Greek myths, knitting and baking.
My life sometimes seems ruled by a To Do list that is out of control. There are things that you have to do, things you want to do, and things you ought to do. And then there must be some time when you aren't doing anything at all, when you just sit back and let it all flow past you, over you, around you, or your mind begins to fall apart, like an alka seltzer in water. Sleeping does not count toward this time. Sitting in your own space, personal and comfortable, and doing nothing is sometimes a necessary thing.
I loved Koyaanisqatsi the first time I saw it. The last time I saw it I was living in Germany, 16 years ago. Even then the movie tempted me to run away somewhere into the wilds, to leave the destructive forces of 'civilization' behind, and that was before I'd ever lived in The City, the one that purportedly never sleeps. (It does. I've seen it snore. ) Now, the urge to set up a quiet homestead somewhere truly remote, to grow vegetables and bake pies is almost overwhelming, but I know that such a return to nature is wholly impractical.
The lawn looks so lush after being mowed today and I experience an overwhelming desire to spend more time working in the garden. Although I have tried to think of ways to wedge more time into my schedule, the reality is that will not happen until the job changes. Thoughts and plans that have been gradually building for the last few months will have to wait, but I can clearly see them realized in my mind's eye. The heat of summer will fade the brilliant green, but until then, I must take some time to enjoy the abundance of nature.
So, you like passion, that's what matters to you? Hmmm. Besides being reminded of one of my favorite Pet Shop Boys' songs, this comment makes me stop and consider thing. Have I been holding back? Yes. Undoubtedly. Can I let it all out? I honestly don't know. Years upon years of being told that I care too much about everything in general, or that such displays are unseemly or unwelcome have me keeping a very tight hold on the reins at all times, regardless how it may appear to others. Time to break a habit that no longer serves me.
A good day in many ways, nevermind that it is still Mercury retrograde. I realized that I really have spent the last three years at my desk, and know that is something that cannot be repeated. Dinner out with himself provides an opportunity for a lengthy discussion about nannies, au pair, and strategic retreats for dad in the house. I wasn't uncomfortable with the topic or unspoken undercurrent of the discussion, a revelation indeed. It was a day when I could see the various threads of the life I'm working toward coming together, however briefly, to create a beautiful pattern.
I don't remember my dreams lately. Scientists who study this stuff say we dream every night, so I must not be awake enough to remember them. For several weeks, from the moment my head hits the pillow, I am dead to the world, including the cats, until the alarm clock starts. This apparent deep sleep is rather disconcerting, as I am quite used to my rather peculiar dreams, although everyone thinks their dreams peculiar, it is the nature of dreams. I often am able to get some useful insights from my dreams. Perhaps they have been held back by mercury retrograde.
A discovery of May Wine sets off a chain of events for Beltane. Seventeen years ago I first experienced Tanz in den Mai, the night of festivities before May Day. Regardless of the cast on my leg, I enjoyed the night, a true pagan, Beltane celebration, fueled by unending glasses of wine punch with berries. I heard tales of my peers decorating the maypole and gifting it to the girl of their choice but a few years earlier. Although you can never really go back, I do my best to recreate the magic of that night, of that whole year.
The Tip Jar