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May Day and Derby Day, what a combination. By all rights, and my original plan, it should have been a raucous celebration, but instead, it was a quiet day. It seemed entirely appropriate that jockey Calvin won yet another Derby, setting an unprecedented victory record, and that no horses were injured during the race. Kentucky Hot Browns for dinner capped off the theme of the day, even if there were no mint juleps. A quiet day can be a very good thing.
It is the classic college dilemma: the stimulating vagaries of a rock and roll life with its uncertainties, or “growing up” and living a somewhat dull 9-to-5 job existence. I found it disheartening that twenty odd years later, that is still the perception (reality?) of one's choices, opposite ends of the spectrum. The dangers of the first haven't changed and the supposed benefits of the second have declined. While you can sustain a mix of both lifestyles in your twenties and thirties, I have found it very difficult in my forties, especially with a mortgage on an older house.
I didn't listen to the radio or podcasts on the way home. I tried to empty my mind of the nearly constant stream of blather running through it, to find some quiet and stillness, and I can't do that with a soundtrack of talk or music right now. Clarity is the goal, but that is some time off; for now I just want to calm things down. The regularity and predictability of traffic today was an odd help, requiring low levels of nearly constant attention, allowing me to gently concentrate on it rather than the random noise in my head.
Santana, “No One To Depend On” came on over the car radio and suddenly I was living a double life – one in the here and now, and another from thirty years ago, circa 1971, when the song was released. The song linked me immediately to the memory of mom's perfume. When I was young, she always wore Emeraude, for special occasions. I have no idea what the occasion was, but clearly, the song was either playing in the car, or, quite possibly, on the stereo at home while mom was getting ready and the memory circuit was made.
Listening to mom talk about Grandma these days, with her firecracker outbursts and mutterings, it is clear which side of the family my temper comes from. I can remember being startled by, but not afraid of her outbursts when I was young. She would often mutter ominously for a few minutes, and then whatever caused it was gone, and she'd smile sunnily at me. Grandpa could almost always cajole her back into good temper fairly quickly, even when it was him she was muttering about. Looking back, I don't know that I ever saw him get really angry about anything.
Conspicuous consumption. Or at least significant spending. It seems I've been doing a lot of that lately, what with maintenance on the car, car insurance premium and buying some clothes – my last wardrobe refresh was five years ago when I started at the Local Expansion Team (I can't believe that was five years ago!). Now, the lawn mower. It seems more than my share to stimulate the economy, but I'm not done yet, even though my bank account says there needs to be a momentary pause. I just hope the refrigerator and the stove hold out a bit longer.
I don't seem to have a clear idea of what I want to do with my career. I understand that there are industries and companies that I don't want to work for, and roles I don't want, but the specifics of what I do want seem to elude me. Even the Dream Job was a dream mostly for location, title and pay than for the actual job. Considering my current job versus possible alternatives, the deciding factor seems to center around pay and commute, not the work. Evidently I'm still than a little ambivalent about the meaning of the work.
Some weekends, I'm very productive and work neatly through my massive To Do list. Other weekends, there are major distractions, and entire day is consumed by a trip or quest and at the end of the weekend it seems I've done nothing. This may be the first weekend where I make progress on the To Dos and have a major distraction. At least the distraction gave me some time with Geoffrey beyond us sitting at our respective computers. And the last of the Christmas socks will be finished, hurray! Now I can knit for me! Me, me, me, me, me!
I don't think my mom is having a very good Mother's Day this year, I can hear it on the phone. She hasn't yet even opened the card I sent to her. I can't imagine how hard the last month has been for everyone, but especially for her, stuck in the middle of it. My grandparents are now both finally in an assisted living facility. Perhaps this will allow mom to focus on the remaining tasks and for everyone to find a new balance, and move forward with life. I'm glad I'm going to Arizona in a week or so.
This retrograde is proving very tough. I know I feel the effects more than many others, what with so much of my chart being in Virgo. Communication is going awry left, right and center, and I have ceased worrying about any major decisions or thoughts, I'm just going with the flow at this point. Work is chaotic, I don't understand the lack of organization, which I hope is due to retrograde. There's only another day or so, I can get through it, but it really makes me wonder about the one that will happen this December, throughout the holiday season.
What the hell, we're nearly out of retrograde, I can investigate any opportunity that presents itself, I'm not signing a contract. Not yet anyway. So I say yes to Karen. I am already schooling myself not to consider what will happen to the projects I'm working on, or to feel beholden in any way to the current situation because of misguided gratitude. I need to put myself first, my career, my financial future, and my happiness. There's no guarantee that things will work out, that anything will actually come of the opportunity, but I need to give it a chance.
The week is becoming a blur with proposal preparations and briefing preparations for tomorrow. I've not yet done anything for the briefing that is in two weeks, there isn't time. I like being busy at work, but then there's this flow of uncontrolled chaos, which does seem to be the pattern. I don't like it and I can't help but feel that it is due to those at the top not being organized, that their failure to plan is constituting an emergency on my part. I have to grit my teeth and bear it for now, but I want change.
I think the thing I dislike most about these extended road trips for work is the pressure to be social. Most days I barely make it through an 8 hour work day without wanting to run away to be alone, but spending twelve to fifteen hours with the same people, never a moment to yourself is a special kind of torment. Even though everyone is quite nice, I find the inane conversations quite tiring and talking about work has a natural limit with such a small group. Just leave me alone to knit quietly in the back of the car.
I have no idea how I made it through the day, and was actually productive at work. How did I used to do this kind of thing? Up early, to bed late, lather, rinse, repeat? Never mind the calisthenics of working full time and going to grad school full time, what about ten years ago when I bought the house? Working on the house for hours each night after work, getting home at 6:45? My plan to do a chore a day has not exactly worked out as of late; I've got to figure out why and resolve the issue.
It was a very enjoyable, if late, dinner with friends tonight, a Taste of Chicago feast with deep dish pizza and cheesecake. The cheesecake was a disappointment (especially to me) but everyone thought the pizza was better than they were expecting, with the known NY crust bias. The dogs are a little much, but the backyard was quite nice and the weather behaved so we could really enjoy being outdoors. I am sure the experience has fueled the fire in G to get a gazebo for our backyard, and I have to admit it sounds like a really nice idea.
We saw a beautiful early Victorian house yesterday, one that neither of us wanted to leave. It is actually the first house we ever saw on the north shore, but it was bought by investors who are now flipping it. When we first saw it, the price tag was much higher. They've done some work and replaced all the windows, but the terrible bathrooms and kitchen remain intact, as to the very uneven floors. With some work, the house could be nearly perfect for us. But we haven't actually decided to stay on the Island, so all bets are off.
Damn! Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn! Grandpa's gone, yesterday morning. Grandma's all alone now, becoming unstuck in time as dementia or Alzheimer's begins to claim her. Mom is a mess, understandably so, even though her father told her on Friday to go back home to Michigan. I've missed the opportunity to see him, to say goodbye, he wasn't able to hold out another few weeks. It seems he never did recover from the last move; I'm glad that he's no longer in pain, but Damn! I wanted to see him again. Nothing will keep me from seeing Grandma next week.
I knew the benefits weren't great, but I've never worked anywhere before that didn't have any bereavement leave. It's been hours since the bomb was dropped (“make up the time this week and you can use Authorized Time Off”) and I still oscillate quickly between total disbelief and absolute outrage. Things like this – a lack of recognition that not everyone who is “new” to the company is still in their early twenties – will certainly cause me to leave this job sooner rather than later, and cause me to question my earlier statements that the people are sane.
I've renewed Prairie Eyrth twice now, but I haven't even picked it up in the last two weeks. The book sits on my nightstand, rather forlorn, or underneath a more seductive bit of fiction. Its the wrong thing to read before bed at this time of year. It would be perfect reading earlier in the day – or for lazing with a drink at the back yard or a beach: read a chapter while sipping a drink, nap briefly, read another chapter with a fresh drink. You get the picture. It is a lazy book, not a book for devouring.
Even though I'm not quite sure that I'm actually interested in the job – or that my interest is legitimately in the job, not the benefis – I have greenlighted a colleague to push forward on a job for me in the city. It has become clear to me recently, and particularly this week, that I need to have options. Choices. Not just be railroaded into the only opportunity that is available at the time I desperately need it. My last three jobs were essentially taken because they were the first thing available. Arguably, all three were rather bad choices.
Although I can barely keep my eyes open when I come upstairs to bed, I eagerly open the book. I'm really enjoying the novel I'm currently reading – it is not science fiction, nor a historical romance, nor Prairie Eyrth, but something different. Rather like Highlander, the movie, or AS Byatt's Possession, it weaves the story of a family back and forth in time. Unfortunately, I think I've figured out the major plot device already, which will be very disappointing if true, but I don't peek at the end of books. We shall have to see how the story unfolds.
I'm keeping myself distracted these last few days with knitting; what a surprise. One of my online groups has announced a contest to run over the next two months, so there's been a flurry of posts, swatching and poring over my stash and patterns. I need to find a suitable travel project, post haste! I'm adjusting my early summer sweater knitting plans to accommodate the contest rules, which require the use of a specific manufacturer's yarn. Sitting in the afternoon sun, watching the movie Picnic again from the very first minute and swatching electric purple silk/linen, I am at peace.
Flying west today, I got an eyeful of the vast prairie and desert landscape. From high above in the plane, many of the terrain’s features do look like the bottom of the ocean. Ponds and small lakes glittered in the late afternoon sun, sprinkled across the land like diamonds on the jeweler’s mat. There were tall stacks of clouds, impossibly bright and dense, both chunky and fluffy at the same time, and in distinct contrast to the even horizontal bands of grey on the horizon. The scenery provided a calming backdrop while I worked hard on my knitting therapy routine.
I was thankful today for the isolation of the desert on the drive from Phoenix to Tucson and back. It was a cool day in Arizona, so I opened the windows and used the fan while driving rather than the AC, figuring the fresh air had to help clear my head. My ipod connector didn’t seem to work, so I drove without any background noise, other than that of tires on the road. I don’t spend much time thinking in quiet anymore. It isn’t the same as meditation, but it does calm my nerves, almost as much as knitting does.
It was a long day, by so many standards. I'm upset by the idea of leaving Grandma behind, alone in Arizona, but there is no alternative. I do not believe that she could cope with the House in the Woods and she will require increasing supervision. Moving her across country would be traumatic, and would further tie my parents to the area they are trying to leave behind. There are no easy answers, no elegant solutions. This is the problem that families everywhere are struggling with; I can only hope that the mechanics of the situation are sorted out soon.
I was discombobulated all day. My body no longer knows what time it is, or what time it wants it to be. I can barely think straight, and I can’t really do any forward planning, I’m stuck in the here and now. Or more accurately, the here and there of the last two days. The unseasonable exposure to sun and heat has probably additionally scrambled my brains beyond what has occurred from being slightly unstuck in time and place. I moved through the day with a minimal amount of productive activity. I hope a good night's sleep will restore me.
It was so cool and lovely and fresh when I got home today that after being shut up in the office all day, all I wanted to do was to sit out in the back yard and enjoy. Let the anticipation of a three day weekend build. Have a drink, relax, breathe in the green and feel the grass between my toes. Weeknights are much more likely to be quiet in the back yard, as our neighbors do their yard chores and entertaining primarily on the weekends. In the end, however, I was disappointed; being an adult really sucks sometimes.
A small restaurant. Twenty tables. A fireplace would be nice, as would water views. No discussion of the menu, but there's a small bar area, where you can linger for a while after the kitchen closes at 9:30 PM weeknights, 11 PM on weekends. The original thought was to be closed from Thanksgiving until New Year's, but altered to be closed during the month of January in order to capitalize on the holiday season. It could work, but probably not in this area, the population is wrong. Better perhaps on the north shore, if you could find the right location.
I need a new stole or large shawl. My favorite, a medium-weight purple cashmere, got shredded by an over-active, hyper, ill-behaved dog last week. I'm so disappointed. And I've just given my midnight laceweight stole to grandma. That means I only have two wraps left; one is heavy DK black cashmere. I don't own any similar purple cashmere and there's none listed on the website. Time to use the tussah silk I've been hanging on to, I think. I can't quite decide on a pattern, which is typical: when it is an unusual yarn, I agonize over the pattern choice.
The flowers in the garden are spectacular this year. The wind and cold snap a few weeks ago did some damage: I can't find any buds on my butterfly bush, and the Korean lilacs are likewise bare, but the clematis and climbing roses have been spectacular; I need to get more support for the roses. The peonies have waited until this weekend to unfurl their massive blooms that I so love. Iris and phlox are still putting on a show, and for the first time in years, foxglove is blossoming in my garden; I hope it survives to next year.
Listening to Johnny Cash Live at Fulsom Prison may seem an odd celebration of Memorial Day, but it is rather perfect for me. I first became acquainted with Johnny Cash by listening to him on 8 track tapes at my mom's parents' house four decades ago, and watching his TV shows way back in the day. Country music wasn't popular in the area, but I used to listen to him for hours; I think it drove Grandma slightly crazy at times. As Grandpa L was a WWII veteran, listening to Cash's album today is both a treat and a tribute.
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