Posts Tagged ‘opportunity’

Big Move

21 October 2011

Dear J-

So as part of the absurdly lpremature plan to move I did a teeny bit of research on the real estate situation in Urbana; assuming that we sell the house for close to what we paid we shouldn’t have a problem getting into one of the older neighborhoods if we wanted. Well, I suppose that as it is we’re in an older neighborhood but what I mean is we can actually get into one of the desireable neighborhoods, school-wise. That might be the way to go, as ideally, theVet would get into the program and I could get a job nearby (one of the first things I researched was the proximity to a nuclear plant) and life would be good, right? Good schools, quiet town, good jobs.

It has enflamed me, though; I keep wondering if going back to school might be an option for both of us. Granted there’s no more useful degrees for me to get in engineering (the PhD would serve only to make me unmarektable as far as a private job goes, and I’m not sure that I have enough time to start teaching and be able to retire) and I don’t think that they’d want to have the impatient me running a lab or teaching kids. Still, though, the passion that theVet speaks about changing our lives has. Fallen off a bit in the past week as it’s been difficult to get any information about their residency program, and she’s left with more questions than answers aside from what’s stated (three year commitment, applications due in January or July).

I like to think the long game even when it may not be appropriate: then what? What comes next? After three years do we head back to San Diego? Somewhere in California? Is this the sort of job that would be portable enough to take anywhere you want? Do we stay in the midwest? I guess really the first question to ask is if she really wants this, and I believe she does but is getting frustrated with the lack of answers and intimidated by the thought of moving everything, but you have to take everything one bite at a time: it is hard, it would be hard to move but it can be done, and the kids are at an age where they’re flexible enough to go anywhere, though that window may be shrinking.

Mike

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Little Longer

10 April 2011

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Dear J-

Some times I’ll sniff dirty kid clothes from Sunday because they’ve sweated their sunscreen into the collars and sleeves. It smells like summer to me. We’re slowly working our way back to a slightly more exhausting weekend routine and packing way too much into any given day but we’re not quite there yet. We march to Calcifer’s belly and figgy’s whims (no Shamu! no sharks!) which can make for a long day without the corresponding time expended. At other times you don’t want the day to end and so we’re back to sniffing clothes as a reminder of the day that was. As crazy as she gets, as strangely demanding as the boy is, we are not short of memories.

By the end of the day Sunday we’ve driven around the world twice and spent the next three paychecks on food. There have been a million piggyback rides and games played (they are imaginative games and quite accurate to their source material, often the movies we’ve just watched, but wear a bit in their repetition; there are only so many ways to express the same enthusiasm) and the hours spent in sleep don’t seem to add up. You have so much down time to recharge yourself between, before, and after that if you don’t spend the time you have together gleefully hoping things get better instead you’re only shortchanging yourself. The thousand hours every weekend go by so fast I can’t be blamed for wanting to keep those a little longer.

I have a tough time judging those peple who keep their Christmas lights up a little long. I understand the nature of regret and denial and want to hang on to those feelings maybe a little too long. The way things go around here life moves pretty fast and if you stop to think about it you’ll miss all the good parts. There’s art happening at the same time you keep hoping for more time to yourself so keep your head clear and your eyes open. The laughter you get keeps pealing in my head throughout the week and makes the Monday to Friday grind slip by again.

Mike

Zoo Portrait

27 February 2011

Dear J-

Typically when I go to the Zoo I come back with well over a hundred shots of various things — it’s not as impressive as it sounds, as I usually have my camera set for continuous shooting and therefore take two when I might intend to take one. Today I get back and there’s all of twenty-nine shots in the can, most triggered over the course of maybe ten minutes as we’re walking around. There’s several explanations that come off sounding like excuses — we’ve been there so often! I had to choose one lens! our hands are full with two kids! — but some days you’re not feeling it. There’s always people there surreptitiously eyeing what you’ve got and others swaggering around with red and gold-ringed lenses, bodies sporting vertical grips and motor drives popping popping popping along. I’m as guilty of spraying pictures as much as the next guy, but it’s not what I want to be remembered for.

I tried something different — pictures of people at the Zoo, and like all pictures of people it’s hard to not be too nosy or feel intrusive. But this is a perfect place for it: folks are engrossed in watching the animal antics that they’re relaxed and honest in their reactions. Kids running around and harried parents may not make the best subjects (or photographers) but there’s no pressure in it. Everyone’s got a camera out but they’re always trained on the animals — after all, why else do most folks go to the Zoo? There’s opportunities everywhere for photographs, if you keep your eyes sharp.

Mike

Shopping Trip

16 December 2010

Dear J-

Picture, if you will, finals week, Fall 1994 semester:  there’s a steady rain coming down the whole time I’m taking tests so on the day I’m finally free I’m sick of the Bay Area and sick of a green December and ready to go home but first I need to get some Christmas shopping in.  At that point I was still doing themed Christmases — and that was the year of the book.  As soon as that last test was over I was out the door and wandering around the used booksellers on Telegraph — Moe’s and
Half Price Books, all right around Dwight and all a mile or so from the co-op where I was living.  When I came back with my treasures, having stretched my forty dollars or so as far as I could — that’s when the real work of packaging and wrapping began; I custom-fitted boxes to each bundle of books over the next few hours, replacing the time I’d usually spend studying with the infinitely more enjoyable task of cutting, folding, and taping.

I’m reminded of that day after today, when we went out and got Christmas errands out of the way.  Cards have been ordered, received, and shipped back out (if we ever get around to efficient solutions I’d have had address labels and a printer too), and we did our kid shopping today, while Calcifer is too young to understand and figgy’s in day care*.  I’m still surprised by how easy it’s been to tote Calcifer around — we hit six different destinations (not all of them stores) without too much difficulty from a demanding newborn.  Sure, he would cry in the car but that $20,000 pacifier would work its magic after a few miles and he’d settle back down, unless hungry.

This week — my last working from home — is winding down and what felt alien at first (the day-to-day operations to keep this household moving) now feels comfortably familiar.  I’m going to miss the morning preparations and bustle as figgy awakens to energize the house, really, the feeling that I’m actually accomplishing something and making a difference instead of flailing at a computer for hours, pulling strings from afar and watching ripples and radar blips.  I’ll have to remember this month off, and remind myself not to go so long between these opportunities:  if it’s only going to be when a kid is born, I don’t know I can wait that long.

Mike

* The real trick now is to figure out where to hide the presents, as some of them (easel from IKEA) are pretty big and bulky.  The current default is Calcifer’s closet, as he’s not using it and figgy’s not interested in it.  The next few years should prove pretty interesting.

Wings Outstretched

1 January 2010

Dear J-

We found ourselves amongst crowds today — strange, I thought, that we would spend the morning hiking and yet not alone, though I suppose that the appeal of Torrey Pines State Reserve on a sunny holiday is too much for anyone to resist. When we got there, we had to drive past crowds of pedestrians hiking thier way up from the lower parking lot. It’s enough to make you feel like the laziest slob in the world seeing folks grinding up the long winding hill — old folks, children, people starting off their resolutions (I’d be interested to see the crowds on 1 Feb in comparison, but my cynicism knows no bounds).

I keep trying to remember how to get her to walk on her own, but every fifty feet, it seemed, she was running around in front of one of us with arms up hoping to be picked up. I’d look with some envy at the other kids running around the Preserve, dashing away down the trails as free as the wind. At that point I realized how much I’d miss the ache in my arms that comes from carrying her everywhere. The new year marks time in a distinct, abrupt border, and the further along we go, the farther we are from her relying on us for everything. It’s double-edged, time’s pendulum cuts both ways.

Last night our neighbors set off fireworks at the stroke of midnight; we had already retired for the night and the flare lit up the window for an instant, lighting the room in stark monochromatic relief. I could not have asked for a clearer sign even though every moment is lost in the next: there is no difference between this second and the second before midnight, New Year’s Eve. What do we need to know about how the year will turn out? I used to read all the horoscopes and psychic predictions religiously (not only because it was the only reading materials in the store at times) in order to spoil the surprise, but I’m finding now the joy in the journey.

Mike

Creative New

5 January 2009

Dear J-

Creative opportunities abound at work, although there’s right and wrong ways of doing anything, you get to choose how and how much.  Assuming that you can stomach it, adding more detail is never a bad thing for the future explorers deciphering your hieroglyphics, but at the same time, the sheer volume of work may encourage all kinds of brevity.  It’s been a rude adjustment going back to the full workweek after two weeks of snacks, relaxed deadlines, and early time off.  Space restrictions help out the creative bent too — trimming off the more florid descriptions I tend to attach to otherwise mundane items.

Sadly, though, with the coming down of trees and lights, so too does patience and tolerance.  Our binges come back to haunt us with a remorse chaser as we learn that begging forgiveness is much harder than hoping for timely charity.  It’s almost the Santa effect again; it’s hard to remind kids any time of year but December of the importance of proper behavior, and it’s similarly harder for us to be charitable when confronted by our own folly.  Nonetheless, I’m still intrigued by how the promises of 2008 will translate into 2009.

We have the opportunity to look at things as though it’s either just another day, this New Year, or as an opportunity for a new start.  That’s not a resolution, that’s not a conclusion, that’s a beginning and how many of those will we end up getting?  How many New Years will we end up seeing and remembering?  What memories will you bring out?  How will they flavor your life?

Mike

Last One on the Raft

1 July 2008

Dear J-

I’m most frustrated with squandered opportunities, lately.  Let’s say that you know something new is coming, and you’re not only invited to learn more about it early, you’re also going to get to play with it.  Admittedly, there are products that this would be more exciting with — let’s say, a new 24x36mm sensor dSLR, or some amazing car, bike, scooter, what have you — but just the chance to be an insider; isn’t that sufficiently exciting in itself to let you form some motivation?  You know you’ll get it eventually, so you might as well try to make the best of the opportunity and learn what you can.

Well, our new software program rolled out company-wide today; for me it represented an actual productivity increase (because, after all, anything’s better than nothing).  On the other hand, it does mean that there’s some more work to be done, yes — daily paperwork to fill out, conference calls to jump onto — but on the whole, it’s not like you’ve had a lot of work to do anyway, what with everything coming to a dead stop the last week or two.  But rather than go to the extra classes, rather than keep an open mind about things, you chose to learn the bare minimum in preparation of your self-fulfilling prophecy that the new systems are going to be difficult.

It’s hard to dredge up sympathy when all I’m surrounded by are bad attitudes to change.  I understand that the manager-types have to think up manager-type slogans to justify their positions, including whatever clunky phrases incorporating the positives of change wherever they can, but if they had any kind of communication skill, they’d be able to convince us that they really mean it:  change isn’t bad or good, it’s just different.  And regardless of how you feel about change, when it’s coming you either evolve, or you die.  When they’ve been handing out life jackets and rafts left and right, and you chose not to take them, you’ve lost the right to protest being drowned.

Mike