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Reading her words, this time I am the one shocked and dismayed by the distance that has come between us. It momentarily fuels my desire to visit her and then the reality of the calender and bank accout hits. It would have to be something mad, like a long weekend in July, but is a few days enough? It wouldn't address the underlying problem of having time when we're both awake and in relatively private surroundings, rather than at work, on a train, or outside on a park bench, weather permitting.
I love the phrase he used: "The lost key to the kingdom of childhood, which is also the key to the secret garden of adulthood." There is rich imagery and meaning tucked away behind those phrases. It seems to me that creative power is the key. Creative power is the unrestricted imagination and creative flow that is channeled by children, not just at play, but in how they face the world at large. Adults have a tendancy to call it "thinking outside the box" but the first word is the problem: thinking merely gets in the way of creative power.
I realized today the full extent of damage done by the combination of not being in the pool three times a week and being catered to by that special someone. I hate it. I'm afraid to try on the Speedo swimsuit from last year because I'm certain it won't fit. I felt so terrific last summer, I'd managed to turn the clock back at least five years. I have never been someone who has a unaturally slim frame or for whom food is little more than a basic necessity of life (rather than a celebration of life and the senses)
It is official: the paperwork has been signed and we shook hands on it. The new title granted me is the industry standard version, not some watered-down variant. It is a small, almost petty detail, but one of great significance to me. Combined with the quite realistic possibility of working from home one or two days a week, it is enough to keep me from being constantly unhappy about work. I am comfortable with my decision to stay put until a real opportunity, one that excites me, comes up. With any luck, that will happen before the summer is over.
Everybody loves a winner. Especially one that has overcome adversity, one with a "human interest" story, even if the winner is not human, but a horse. I did see Affirmed win the triple crown all those years ago, but didn't realize at the time it was such a rare event. Like everyone else, I was rooting for Smarty Jones today, but the fates realized that such a Hollywood ending would have been in poor taste and intervened accordingly. Afterwards, the jockey was unbelievably unruffled, even blasé, about the disappointing loss - I would not have been so calm about it.
There is something about reading the Sunday Times in bed, even if you are dressed and it is afternoon, that just seems so... relaxed and indulgent. I almost never watch Sunday Morning without multi-tasking anymore doing laundry or cleaning during commercials and stories I don't care for. To just read the Times, turning page after page while sipping coffee is the height of decadence, at least to one part of my mind, but that part is relegated to the background when I'm with Geoffrey. Among his many gifts to me has been rediscovering the ability to relax and enjoy it.
The day seems to be nothing but shifting gears, changing plans, and false starts. Days like this prove how little control we have over the events in our lives. A year ago I would have been frustrated beyond belief at not making progress according to schedule and plans. Now, interestingly enough, I almost (but not quite) don't care… there will be another day, tomorrow, to work on those things. The impact to my personal schedule, however, is another matter altogether. For the moment, it is still planned down to the minute; unexpected wholesale changes like these pose very real problems.
Taking out my frustration at the chores not getting done because of interrupted schedules, I start a new routine at the pool, dividing my time between my traditional aerobics-meet-yoga exercises and doing laps, either side-stroke or with a kickboard. I realize that new muscles are being challenged as I drift into something almost like meditation during the gentle motion in the very quiet pool. The Zen of Laps, I finally get it. I am blowing hard by the time I've completed six full laps. Progress, on many fronts, at last. How much will I pay for it tomorrow, I wonder?
I find personal dynamics at the office interesting. You work side-by-side with someone for five years, voluntarily eat lunch with them every day, yet you do not want to spend any money on a wedding present when he finally gets married. If it were someone in another team or department that you only occasionally worked with, yeah, sure, I understand it. And it is not as though there are a lot of weddings to worry about, this is the first in five years. I may not be personally that close to the groom-to-be, but I didn't question giving a gift.
I am in overdrive today, getting things done before I leave for a week in SanFrancisco. Every hour from 9 in the morning until 9 at night a reminder goes off, marching me through the list of things that need attention before I get on a plan. It is an impressive display of scheduling -- the field marshal at work. It it is also very depressing at the same time, that I would need such an extremely high level of organization, as I don't have kids that have to be shuttled around or anything, it is just my own life.
With two large sliding doors, my room at the hotel is bright and fresh and I can see the bay and the Oakland Bridge, even without having an officially designated "bay view room." Leaning out over the concrete wall, I can really smell the crisp tang of the ocean. This is quite promising, and although I do not expect to spend much time in the room, I am looking forward to sitting in the slipper chair and watching sunrise over the bay. Sunset is late in the evening, so I can watch a sunset at the water's edge as well.
The farmer's market at the ferry terminal takes my breath away. OK, so this is California, land of produce, but the assortment of vegetables, berries, cherries, peaches, the English peas that are fatter than any of my fingers, the eggs, cheese, meat, fish make me wish for a kitchen. And the bread, oh, the bread. I don't know when I last saw bread that looked this good. I stop and stare with delight at a flower stand, the hand-tied bouquets of snapdragon, sweet peas and other delicate spring flowers. It makes me wonder if I'm living on the wrong coast.
I realized suddenly that I am accustomed to spending all of my spare time, my down time, with Geoffrey. And although I do not have a lot of down time here, the evenings are my own, no cleaning, no commuting, no chores, so I have small chunks of that treasured commodity, spare time. But he is not here. After two days, I'm already tired of eating out alone. Exploring the city is somehow less entertaining when it is just me, especially during the evenings. The week ahead is stretching out in front of me, looking rather long and somewhat boring.
A long, long day spent being cheerful and helpful. I'm exhausted at the end of it, but not yet in pain by maintaining the façade, so it appears to have been worth the effort. An hour or so spent in the evening being social with some of those from today's lunch table is interesting, but for some reason it is my life that comes under the closest scrutiny by my colleagues. Life is short, I am reminded, more than once. Yes, well, I'm working hard to shake things up so that I can escape being the grain between the millstones.
By the end of the day I'm tired of being nice and interested, of putting my best face forward; in a sense, I've been networking non-stop since my arrival on Friday afternoon. The idea of another meal alone in a restaurant is beyond depressing, and it is this, more than anything that makes the decision to choose the small social outing rather than the professional networking activity. I dislike eating out unless it is a social occasion or a deliberately chosen treat. I'm not sure what that says about me, considering how much I like trying new restaurants at home.
I am evaluating the city, I realize. I am wondering if this really is someplace I could live. It is a very different atmosphere than the east coast, and in many ways, I quite like it. In other ways, something is badly off-kilter and I can't quite put my finger on it. Some of it is the lack of green on streets, especially in residential areas. In New York, there are either big planters or smaller trees planted between the curb and the sidewalk. Here, there are small parks dotting the landscape, but no real transition between street and building.
After a brief summary discussion of my current professional life, he pauses and asks if I've considered the CISO / CSO track. If I needed validation about my recent decision to forgo the security analyst or hands-on technical positions, this would be it. However, after watching myself fall into the same combative stance with the mock management panel, I realize I have some work to do before I can be truly successful in that larger role. How to apply the distance of the consultant while still being a regular, full-time employee? That would be a great boon to my career.
The casual dinner conversation last night took a left turn at the mention of the yarn I had purchased. After a show and tell with said yarn, we discussed the individuality of handknit garments, especially the abilty to custom tailor the fit. So many people do not have a body shape that matches that dictated by the fashion industry; I have begun to wonder about the demand for custom tailored items, especially sweaters. A sweater that is too long in the arms, too broad here or there, or tight in neck simply never gets worn. But one that fits everywhere…
I am getting better at relaxing at my own parties. Perhaps this is a by-product of everything I've learned from himself, or maybe it is beause I did not spend a day cooking in preparation for this party. The summer solstice party was a quiet event (< sigh> again < /sigh>) but we did get some visitors from the city this time. And again, it ended with sunset fading into twilight with a group gathered harmoniously on the porch. It is small, but it is a community, West and Gary intersecting with the neighbors. If only Geoffrey and Helene had been here.
Alone in my house, I enjoy the peace and quiet of my own comfortable surroundings while I clean up from the party and a week's business trip. I love to travel, but unlike some people who travel easily for extended periods of time, I have always been happy to arrive back home, even when on a pleasant weekend vacation. I adapt well to change in many ways, but have long recognized I have a distinct preference for having my own things around me. This has become even more marked since I bought the house: my home is my private retreat.
Now its two weeks and counting that I've gone without seeing Geoffrey. I can't decide if it is completely pathetic or very promising that I miss him so much, so intensely and on so many different levels. But at least I have the pleasure of hearing him say that he misses me as well, so it isn't completely one-sided. Hearing it out loud in our nightly phone calls provides a certain reassurance that carries me through those moments when I am haunted by the old insecurity that creeps in when we are separated for more than a day or two.
Yes, so when push comes to shove, when the job is critical to the overall mission and must be to get done on time and correctly, there is only one person you can turn to, and trust that it will be done: me. You want me to save your collective asses. Again. As I've done so many times before. Just why should I bother? It is clearly
my responsibility this time, the burden should be someone else's. This time I at least thought of the correct response, although about ten minute too late:
how much does the job pay?
Can it be? Truly? I'm afraid to believe such good news, so I start cross-examining one of my bosses, until I realize what a bad move that is and change gears quickly and thank him honestly. Working from home two days a week is almost a reality! I want to have it confirmed by the other boss; he had previously approved it in the generic, but I want him to approve it in the specific. I'm calculating this will bring back twelve hours into my schedule and allow for two trips to the pool during the week. What a deal!
I am really beginning to feel the constraints of writing for this forum. Not the format, I quite dig the extended brevity of 100 words. It's not so longer that you can ramble or rant, you must be specific, yet its just long enough that you must provide some real detail. When what was significant in my life was mostly internal, my own thoughts, dreams, my own moment of wonder in the day, it was easier to share them. Thankfully, my life has changed in the last year and the moments of wonder are no longer easily or openly shared.
For some reason today I remembered learning to sew with Grandmama, the blue flowered print made into a very simple skirt when I was five. Although she made many dresses for me, there are two I remember vividly. First, the yellow dotted swiss when I was a flower girl at a wedding. I remember the wedding, kneeling on the red pillow for what seemed absolutely days. The other dress was of turquoise velvet with white, scratchy, ruffled trim. I hated the dress because of that trim, but I loved the heart-shaped pillow that Grandmama made when I outgrew the dress.
Fireflies are one of life's wonders. I still am delighted and amazed by their winking lights on a summer evening. Somehow, I want the Queen's Bedoin Tent to invoke the same response. The whole concept was inspired in large part by the blue canvas tent painted by Rae, a creation which changed and grew on every trip, the dragon and the butterfly, outlined in black permanent marker. Although originally I planned only to hang curtains, I'm now bidding on lengths of vivid sari material and considering imprinting the basic white structure with celtic designs in permanent fabric paint and glitter.
Laying in the hammock at the Gatehouse on a perfect summer day, I watch the trees dance. The old pine trees are slow and stately, only swaying from side to side, but the deciduous trees are getting their groove on as the clouds move past. When was the last time I did this – sat and watched the green leaves shimmer against a blue, blue sky? I have clear memories of enjoying the leaf-dancing display as a child, but have I done it in the last five, ten, fifteen years? When was the last time YOU did it? Do you remember?
It appears I will have some opportunity to practice the Consultant's Distance attitude at work in the next few weeks. I acccepted the task of creating the blueprint of activity for the next seven weeks, as I'm apparently the only one trusted to be able to do it. I said yes, although I should have asked what the job pays, half in fun and full in earnest, before saying yes. I find myself becoming emotionally involved in the process, as though I have a personal investment here. But I don't, I must remember that: Ops is no longer my responsibility.
Today almost seemed like a vacation day as I was quite productive personally but I did also put in a full day's real work for the office. It is really amazing what a difference it makes when you convert four hours in a single day from commuting to "available". I've lived with the commute for so long, it has become rather normal to me. The train is filled with others who live with similar circumstances. It speaks volumes about the human ability to adapt to our surroundings although in cases like this I'm not sure that is a healthy thing.
"All you need is a dollar and a dream" – the motto of the New York Lottery. Wishful thinking, that, in more ways than one, yet with the jackpot of one of the games approaching truly obscene levels, we indulge for a few moments in the complete fantasy. When we talk houses (next on the list after the island in the Bahamas, of course), I'm shocked (and delighted) to discover that based on what we know of things he still prefers the house in Garrison. Not that we would really have to choose just one house if we won, mind you.
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