Posts Tagged ‘light’

Some Magic Morning

17 November 2011

Dear J-

There’s a funny thing about work: when your’e transitioning and the new job seems so far away there’ll be a day you realize that the time you have left isn’t as much as you thought. Even if it seems a bit excessive to have me wait around for four months instead of the typical two weeks I’ve always regarded December as some far-off, mythical date that isn’t going to be here any time soon. With the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow, though, we’ve got just a few weeks left together, the warehouse and I, and there’s any number of things that I haven’t been able to take care of so far that I’ll have to turn over.

I think I just went over my limit on the corporate jargon-o-meter. I’m down to — let’s see — three weeks and today. Each day becomes an ever-increasing percentage of the time left; this week alone has eaten up a good twenty-five percent. I’ll call it a relative dilation of time: as the actual day approaches each individual day seems to creep by faster and faster in some kind of blur. I know that no one has sped up the clock but I also know that there’s been whole days lately where I’ll sit down and eventually find myself by 11:30 wondering. What I’ve done that day. Lunch has been inconsistent too, ranging anywhere from I’m-hungry to what-day-is-it.

When I was younger I used to decry not having seen the sun in Cheney at all: during debate season there was always the tournament at Gonzaga in January where we’d have to get up early enough and return so late that it felt like we were thieves stealing out to do business by the cover of night. The time change always does this to me: instead of delaying the onset of morning but ensuring enough light to bring us home as during Daylight Savings adjusted hours we’re starting to hit the dark-dark zone. I have to keep reminding myself that even that’s not forever, and a month from now is when the solstice hits and we’ll start gettting longer days again. Changes creep up fast on you and before you know it you’re back to something new.

Mike

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Artificial Light

12 May 2011

Dear J-

We already are getting into the sunrise hours on the morning commute — yesterday the marine layer held off overnight so I was treated to the sun full in my face as we made the last few turns into work. Before the Daylight Savings jump, in fact, we were getting that early commute sunrise — the sun making you blink a bit in surprise and warming your lips and eyelashes from its 93-million mile perch. I find it helps me walk in to work ready to face the remainder of the day, free from the nagging doubt that, walking in under the cover of night, your body suspects that it should still be horizontal and gently snoring.

The construct of artificial light — let’s make that distinct into electric light, which has soon become ubiquitous — means that darkness can now be productive time. If I was still keeping up a daily journal in a spiral-bound notebook, for instance, there would be no way I could write in the dark like this. We have molded our lives to fit various goals — financial or professional — by forcing our world to keep up through extending days into nights, consuming ever more time and energy just covering our world with streetlights and lamps. Yet when I get in and the sun has risen those streetlights are revealed as frauds, their light drowned in the ocean pouring from the sky.

Perhaps my favorite part of IKEA is the lamps and lighting department. I take particular delight in seeing the new designs, as a god lamp will not only provide illumination but also shape the light in some interesting way — if all you saw was the bare bulb the artificial lights would be harsh and unyielding. There is a certain volume quality to light — if you’ve ever watched the full moon slip behind thin clouds you know what I mean– I can’t help nut wonder at the captured photons setting their world alight. The sun is nearly up again and that means the closing of the quiet dark, ready for the battles of today.

Mike

Spooky Thoughts

5 November 2008

Dear J-

Spent the dark time of the day waiting for things to get light; spent the light of the day indoors under the sickly glow of a monitor and fluorescent lights.  We hear about justice and think that the system will serve us well when we need it, but can we choose our terms and conditions as needed?  Drive the point home; ask for what you need and don’t complain about the luxuries.  Are we better off today than we were yesterday?

Answers necessarily vary by person and by degrees.  How deep is your committment to sacrifice?  How much can we truly ask of each other?  Who leads the charge?  It’s not a question of leadership through example — not everyone’s inspired in the same way — so how do you demonstrate your loyalty, how do you demand your rewards?  When you daydreamed of working while in school, is it everything you thought it would be?

I scare myself when I hear some of the words coming out of my mouth; there’s a level of competence I can’t possibly be at, and yet here I go trying to show other people how to get things done, teaching the same people who two years ago were teaching me.  If there is nothing more universal, I believe that respect begets respect; the more flippantly you treat a question, the less believable your answer.  Tonight the glow on the western horizon stays low over cobalt waters; no fog, no low clouds to kiss the hills, clarity in every sight and word and deed indeed.

Mike

Just Like US

16 September 2008

Dear J-

We head home together without rancor; the weight of work lifts as we pass through the gates and so far, it’s still sunny on the way back.  Come the end of Daylight Savings, though, things will change.  Sometimes I think about picking up a smoking habit, or even just a secondhand smoking habit, for the excuse of getting out of doors once in a while when I’m otherwise stuck at my desk all day long.  Back in grad school I had friends from foreign countries who’d drag me outside — this is how I picked up the odd habits of carspotting I carry to this day.

I get out the door in the afternoons and forget how bright daylight is; the conflicting edicts of microbreaks and productivity conspire to keep me from leaving my chair on a regular basis.  Weather, what’s weather again?  The amazing thing is how staying busy keeps the day moving; no sooner it seems that I get one or two small things done than it is time to head back home again.  I can’t help but put on my old job hat and look at things from a cost engineer’s perspective; one of the rules was that overtime was effective in limited instances, but completely ineffective to the point of countering productivity after roughly six weeks.  The aphorism that work expands to fill the available time holds true:  given the chance, I suspect that we’ll lay some pretty spectacularly polished gold bricks.

But we’re headed home again.  Weather continues to cooperate with the notion that it’s still summer around here, not a handful of days short of the next equinox.  The political season continues, unabashed in hypocritical contradictions and hyperbolic projections; I keep hoping that folks will figure out better criteria for picking candidates than tabloid magazines (the “Stars, they’re just like US” segment in US magazine comes to mind — not that I read that too much, right).  I can’t say that I understand the backlash against smart candidates — why is it so engrained in us to be jealous?  We’ll have a lot of time to consider it, at any rate.

Mike