Emergency Context

2 July 2015

Dear J—

Remember when cell phones were uncomplicated and you could get by with not worrying about locking them, how you’d put in a ‘ICE’ or ‘home’ contact in case of an emergency to ring your home? Now that we’ve flipped back over to secrecy and encryption I wonder how that works, if there’s some number you can program into your phone when it allows the emergency dialer to go up without pause. On the other hand, everything is crazy, so there’s that. The world doesn’t make sense all the time, and for you to choose what information you share isn’t always the right way to go about things, but it’s how it is in this modern world; privacy is a big issue again and how far are you willing to go to regain it?

I booked my hotel for Washington DC even though I haven’t yet gotten my flight; it’s a bed and breakfast in what looks like a nice place so yes, apparently I’ll be sharing a bathroom and common spaces. It’s strange to do it again after having lived independently (well, as independently as it gets I guess; everything in our little house is shared but I also share DNA with half the occupants, on the other hand) but I’m looking forward to having some time with people rather than just all stupidly on my own in a hotel room way too big (hi, Chicago; it was a nice room but wow, was it overkill for the one night I stayed there). Then again, what’s the alternative? If all you need is a place to flop for a night then there’s really nothing better (or worse) to be had, right?

Is it strange to be seeing old friends and not worrying about the way we treat each other on paper, having to write these things about how much we distrust the analysis but then shaking hands and greeting enthusiastically in real life? Walk on by, I suppose; the context of the emergency means that everything you do will be scrutinized beyond belief, I think. This is what it means to be a professional, I suppose, although as Geoff says, first you have the rugby match, then you go drinking with the other side, and I wonder if I’m going about it the wrong way ’round.

Mike

The Now

1 July 2015

Dear J—

Me? At the moment? There’s some sort of bug bite or perhaps a bruise in an indelicate area and I don’t want to scratch it. Or maybe we have to face the joys of work without the mitigating circumstances of … geez, I dunno. Any little perturbation and everything goes off; I woke up well before my usual time but went back to sleep and ended up out later than usual instead. You never know what might happen as you get on in the years and days yet to come.

Mike

Moving By

30 June 2015

Dear J—

I spent some time last night (early this morning) having to work out some issues with the router and I’m not convinced they’re completely fixed, but what are you going to do, right? I’m not completely convinced I ever knew exactly how it worked or if there was some sort of delicate balance I upset when I reset the machine, but now the connection with the external world is spotty and I’m learning it’s true: a slow Internet connection is almost worse than none at all, and one that’s spotty here-and-there is incredibly aggravating. So is the fault between the router and modem or between the modem and node? What is it supposed to be?

I don’t know what I’m doing for the most part, but I do know it’s a fairly long way out. On the other hand the way things are going lately I can’t say with any certainty that everything or anything will last. I want to set it up and not have to worry about it, but even that is too much most of the time, it seems. The aggravation of things not working – let’s say instead, suddenly not working – that’s impossible to deal with and I don’t see why I should have to. Yet if I get this frustrated every time things don’t work then I have a short period being satisfied every day going forward. I’m not sure what I’m saying. It doesn’t make much more sense to me, either.

I tell myself I’m going to be good this time and not so angry, or aggravated, and patience will be my watchword but instead there’s something always being pushed just too far. But how do you know it’s too much? There’s no immediate cutoff that says this is too much, it’s just a decision you make and why it should be any different than the last time you were asked for this-or-that and I can’t say for sure, but it is. It just is.

Mike

Give and Take

29 June 2015

Dear J—

There are names I’m sure I should remember, and others that sound like I’ll never see that person again (even if we were forced to introduce ourselves last week. Who was that guy? Tony?) but yeah, the new regulars are not the old regulars and that makes sense from a wider perspective. The weekend is over and we’re establishing a new summer routine after the wild untamed chaos of the last week: last days of school, business trip, various parties. There’s some considerable differences in how this week has gone versus the ones prior and I’m sure that’s not an easy transition for most, but especially the boy, who must feel adrift in this. We’re done with the yellings and carrying-on but …

The weekend is over. We had some times where he would go to bed not just sort of late but actually fall asleep well after we were turning in for the night. The whole point is we have ample hours with him and if we’re not bothering to make them quality hours then we only have ourselves to blame, I suppose.

Mike

Explain Time

26 June 2015

Dear J—

So, explanations: I’m on the train this morning because I forgot my laptop at work yesterday which really means I forgot about Calcifer’s “graduation” (seriously, graduation from preschool; I understand the need to recognize but, really, graduation?) today, which I’d thought was perhaps in the evening but nope, at noon instead. What I really need to do is figure out what kind of schedule I have later today so I can actually meet all the meetings I’m committed to attend. I know there’s one at 8 and another one at 1, and there’s another one out there which I fear is right at 11, when the graduation is supposed to be. So you cut out or what?

I also feel like I owe an explanation for why I haven’t written much of anything lately. That is due to scheduling quirks; when I started riding the train I wouldn’t talk to anyone, giving me a good long uninterrupted sequence of about an hour, and I’d be able to wrap things up quickly enough that by San Carlos or Redwood City, I’d finish up that last paragraph and hit send. Now I talk with folks all over and my time to be anti-social is generally over by Hillsdale, which gives me a bare ten minutes to sprint some words down on the page. Plus which it’s not so great with respect to staying coherent or interesting. I occasionally wonder how long I can keep writing but … what can you do, eventually?

Mike

Stewing About

25 June 2015

Dear J—

I have my favorite schadenfreude moments, like watching people first step out of the terminals at SFO without a jacket (incidentally, that was me not so long ago, what with leaving San Diego in the heat and wearing shorts eleven months out of twelve). If and when we’re ready to approach escape velocity from this rut we’re in, perhaps we’ll find a way to play tourist and encounter all the joys of going someplace new and acting through them awkwardly, marking us out as newbies and neophytes. I like the concept, in abstract, of new experiences, but don’t necessarily want to look like I don’t know what I’m doing, even if that’s true, which adds to the essential tension of the situation.

Mike

Skunked

24 June 2015

Dear J—

I’m back from Chicago, with all the pleasant (and not) sensations of displacement featuring prominently in my head. Twelve hours ago, I was two thousand miles away and it still feels weird to lie down on a different pillow for two nights running, but that’s just how it is, I suppose. When I was there I had a spare couple of hours, which I spent walking over to Navy Pier and riding the Ferris wheel there. The gentle rotation wasn’t enough to set off any motion sickness, so … so far, so good. On the way there and on the way back, I saw skunks, or perhaps the same skunk, once sitting outside the house (I detoured and came in through the garage) and once with an upraised tail in silhouette (I detoured and gave a wide berth once I recognized the tail, rising up in shadow).

We have had lots of different things happen recently; change is in the air. We’re moving the kids out of their current separate day cares into a single one next week (partly prompted by the weird actions of at least one of them, throwing major shade on their competitors and asking for months of tuition up front) which will be a major change but something we can get through I think. Try as you might, it’s easy enough to slip into lazy days of slothful actions, like letting the TV be the babysitter, so let’s try more than a bit harder, shall we?

Mike

Drama Llama

19 June 2015

Dear J—

More than being a comedy of manners, which doesn’t translate well, nor is it a timeless story, more than that, the story I want to tell is not about the guy behind you on the train wearing far too much cologne, giving you flashbacks to the time you went to the nuclear plant and couldn’t find a good way to tell them it wasn’t you who set off the bomb sniffer, it was the guy in front. Secondhand perfuming. I keep thinking that there’s gotta be a way to get from one park to another here in the city, some kind of emerald necklace connecting here to there that isn’t the obvious answer of Bay Trail. I’m not even sure what I’m saying any more. It’s been a long week.

The last few days I’ve had an opportunity to – really, I should say no opportunity to – edit a few items on Wikipedia leading towards incomplete stories, just to get the feel of writing again and then trying to execute a few illustrations to make sure I have the right mental picture going forward. It feels weird that I should claim that that sort of thing helps me going forward with fork but that’s how I feel about it: we have a lot of different ways to go in this world and you can choose to create or not, and no one else will ever write your story as well as you can.

Maybe that means they’ll write it better, though. I’m not sure. There’s a thousand hours between now and the end of the year, so let’s not be too hasty in dismissing any items.

Mike

Dry Down

18 June 2015

Dear J—

This I haven’t seen before – they’re already driving the new piles and retaining walls to raise the trackbed between Burlingame and San Mateo; it looks like it’s nearly done running north from Santa Inez. I went to bed far too late last night and am not ready for the day, this after I swore to myself that I’d be much better about it yesterday; this after groggily snoozing through several alarms and reaching the station much later than I’d like. I’ve decided – having done it both ways this week now – it’s nicer to be early than late, and why or how you might accomplish that is not for me to dictate, just to observe. The more stuff you acquire means only that you’ve got more stuff, nothing more or less significant than that.

I’ll be headed to Chicago on Monday for a one-day meeting Tuesday, flying back that night. The flight is expected to last approximately five hours and the time change means I’ll clock another two hours ahead, so the more I think about it, the less I want to deal with any flight that’s not direct. I’ve learned all about that while waiting for connections in smaller airports during the winter, and I realize those guys do their best, their very human best but sometimes I wish for more. Chicago again means we’ve got another disruption in our lives and more restless nights ahead, and that doesn’t always mean for the best. The light evenings have meant un-sleepiness has ruled the roost lately.

Our drought continues without abatement as well; we think about all the different things we can do to save – even figgy did it, as an Earth Day pledge – and things like putting a gray water bucket in the tub start to make sense. I wake up in the mornings, though, and see the irrigation spillover and condensation on the ground and wonder if it’s really that bad here, or if we should be held hostage to the demands of the southern deserts. It’s not easy to decide, but at least we don’t have to, not right away at any rate.I think about how Texas got enough rain in one month to flood the entire state to a depth of eight inches and start to believe there’s something to the idea that weird weather may be our new normal.

Mike

At-Grade

17 June 2015

Dear J—

One of the things I’m tasked with and don’t necessarily do very well is the marketing aspect of my job, where I’m supposed to be calling people up to groom new business. It’s a small thing but we have to take care of it while we can and not just rely on the summer good times to last forever as I have, ant-and-the-grasshopper and all. It’s easy to forget these things during the summer as we watch the sun come up earlier in the day and stay up late with us; I don’t remember this from last year, necessarily: here we are, with restless kids watching the last bits of the sun and demanding all the one-lasts: one last drink of water, one last restroom break, one last story, one last song.

Are we as much further north compared to San Diego as Cheney is from San Francisco? I like to think the daylight hours were long (and the winter daylight correspondingly short) but I’m never quite sure about it. The endless daylight holds all sorts of post-dinner possibilities, not that we take advantage of them, though.

Mike


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