Sunday, February 26, 2006

"As we lie down to sleep, the world turns half away..."

Several things to report, so little time: Blue, once a mood, now a card. I've received mine, with its embedded microchip for swipeless swiping, and note that besides looking cool, it came with all kinds of info on music downloads, etc., presumably aimed at a generation of debt-makers slightly younger than myself. Or at least I concluded this after not being able to find aforementioned translucent card for about five times in thirty minutes: if you need glasses to find it, perhaps the traditional Amex is more for you. Still, I managed to park a sizeable balance transfer on my new Blue; good-bye, good-bye to the too high interest of one of its competitors.

At the behest of a friend, I slogged through this personality survey
Genuine Creator. Somehow, this cube represents the results of My Personal Dna Report , which did not turn out to completely match my Myers-Briggs (INTX), but then, things are in flux. Though it agrees with a number qualities more scientific tests have suggested are part of my "self," at one point it insists (rather disturbingly) that "In your experience, people tend to get what they deserve." Oh, au contraire,, if only they did. No, that has not been my experience with either good works or malicious plots, and I wonder which of my responses would have led whatever algorithms drive the thing to think that.

This post's title quote courtesy of Elizabeth Bishop's poem, "Sleeping Standing Up."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Polycarp's Day

It is getting lighter earlier. I leave the house at six or ten past, and have been driving just about the full hour in total darkness. The earlier intimations of sunrise have actually been jarring; today was easier, greyness and light fog, a liminal hour between me and the day to come. Meanwhile, there have been series of commercials for the state lottery, showing people doing outrageous things at work: toll booth guy slams the gate arm down on a car hood repeatedly, supermarket cashier scans items while saying "rip off, rip off again, ninety-nine cents across the street..." and then up comes the text,
"When you win the lottery, how will you quit your job ?" Oh, the thought--- it was great, though, to see the people in Nebraska (it had to be the midwest !) win that huge jackpot, folks who could clearly really use it. I may have to buy a ticket one of these days.

In a training session the other day, they brought in more experienced people to share war stories with the newcomers, of which I am technically one. Predictably, they like what they do. When one guy said, "I just don't want to be one of those people who gets up in the morning and doesn't want to go to work," I wondered if I was blushing, twitching, smiling too hard, something that would blow my cover. I have a poker face and put much energy and time into my work, and this all leaves me spent. I remember loving what I did, I thought. I try to push it away, but my subconscious has burbled up in dreams lately after a year of not remembering any dreams. My legs ache, I sleep too little for all the work and my double life of trying to get back to my life on top of it. I dream combinations of now and then, and attempt to read, think and write in between, all the while trying to continue to bake cookies, go out and shop, play, love and live. I wonder if I am slowing down in spite of myself, should be pushing harder.

None of this has anything to do with poor Polycarp of Smyrna; it's just his day, and well, omnis canis suum diem habeat.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

"Hooded Nightbirds... /They Knock on Their Own Doors," or The Dakotas, Martinis, and Me

Once upon a time when I lived in a warm climate state that does not consider itself to be "the south,", I could not adapt to the climate. As "fall" rolled around and "winter" came upon us, it seemed that there was just something so wrong with putting up your Christmas lights with shorts on and seeing the Salvation Army Santas sweating out the eighty degree weather in their thin cotton Santa suits. Having grown up in a four season climate, I began to dream of snow. I even wrote to International Pen Friends and requested to have penpals in northern countries. Finland, Norway, Russia... no shortage of people who still want to write letters. So I was happy to move to the midwest, the glorious frozen coziness of fall apple pie baking, romping in the winter snows, the true act of sacrifice of having to take off your glove to put money in the little red Salvation Army can.

Alas, I have discovered that a blog I had listed on my blogroll is no more: The Dakota Pundit is gone, not even available in any kind of archived version. If anyone knows what the author is up to, please leave some info. There was some very thoughtful writing there and it is a shame that it has all just evaporated into thin air.

Thinking of good writing, warm cafes and better times, here are the virtual imagos of this nostalgia. Those craving the pinpointing, gps-driven geographical specificity of les blogs regionals (maintenant officiellement " les blocs notes regionals)" will have to bite and bear it:

The best martinis in town and a wonderful menu. The upstairs bar, open before the restaurant, feels like a secret aerie in the late afternoon. Over appetizers and a wonderfully stiff drink, discussion of all genres of byzantine maneuverings feels safe.

The worst martinis in town, but its non-alcohol serving original (a coffeehouse) is the best place to nab a table with your books, laptop, and notebooks on a stolen afternoon: great coffee and teas, WiFi, occasional pottery by the owner, and an interior as inviting as this one, though more snug and less drafty.

Many a happy and cozy winter day were spent in one of these two places. I think of them often. I have a whole post's worth to say on friends who comment that one is "better off" not being where they are still going about their lives. Perhaps it is the fantasy of our peculiar profession; certainly a number of people were quick to envy the fact that I left or to tell me what I was leaving was not fine enough for me. They, still happily (?) there, grousing away. I leave you tonight to ponder the fact that I have had no decent sushi since leaving the midwest.

The title of this post --- the quoted part--- from "Easter," a poem by Jeanine Hathaway. Deeply out of context, there I am: a hooded nightbird.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The One Hundreth Day

Yes, it has been quite the hiatus here. I'm surprised I could still access my blog. Perhaps the ephemera of cyberspace are not so short-lived after all. Will have to catch up as we go. Meanwhile...

"If to live in this style is to be eccentric, it must be confessed that there is something good in eccentricity."

--- Verne

Friday was the one hundreth working day of this year's lateral option (what this is ought to be getting clear to some people). And that's really all I can say, because I am foresworn not to write about that in this blog, not to let it invade.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I managed to get back to the ranch, at least part time. No time to blog or think beyond what I was doing. Don't know in retrospect how I survived it. One day each week, I drove a huge triangle: an hour down to the option (7:00 am - 3:00, not including the commute), forty-five minutes out to the university, a three hour seminar, an hour drive back, bringing me home at 9:30 or ten, up again at five.... This day was bounded on both sides by days ending at six at a different place. I made it through, with some new contacts and some fresh optimism. It afterwards that I felt the side effects , aka the exhaustion that I had pushed away and out of consciousness, and the depression that in spite of making some inroads, no immediate chance of escape is on the horizon. One of my readers, Dave, I think it was, wrote in a comment from long ago that all the vagueness here was getting to him. About this stuff it just has to be, though I am freer to write about what I do part time in the evenings.

We have had a big snowstorm overnight. Ploughs (or are snow ploughs "plows" ?) came earlier, but the snow is still falling, beautiful and thick. Ah. A grey sky and cappucino; no wonder I have found my way to my blog again...