Posts Tagged ‘return’

Back There

2 May 2011

Dear J-

It’s back to work with me and I’m still digesting that particular tidbit after nine days filled with kids and no time left over. The combination of late nights and later mornings has made me acutely aware that there are only twenty-four hours in a day and any attempt at cheating will be met with swift retribution. You can not subtract enough hours from the day before having a big crash somewhere and I suspect it’ll be work that takes the brunt of it today when my body deciides to siesta after lunch. Stranger things have happened after extended vacations, and only HR knows how much left I am being forced to take this year after having worked the last four being told of the virtues of one week a year.

I suppose the point of vacation is to recharge and refresh but I’m looking forward to work today for the former. The twenty-seventh iteration of the same demand from my game-obsessed daughter makes me wonder if it’s just me being a horrible person for saying no or just the repetition that’s unbearable. We got her what amounts to an electronic nanny for the trip — a Leapster handheld ‘educational’ system (I’m sure it’s effective but so far all it’s taught is how to turn on a movie and watch in the intense manner of the young) — and I can see why the temptation for something like a GameBoy is so high for parents trying to carve more time out of a hollow pumpkin day.

One of my coworkers likes to call the day before coming back to get up to speed on everything that’s going on and now I understand why. When you flip the switch and shut the work part of your brain off even temporarily there’s an awful lot of rust that builds up afterwards. At the moment, between age and responsibilities I can’t even begin to imagine retirement. If you’re supposed to have lots to do in your life then we’d be set right now but what do we go back to after the kids grow up and go? It seems like forever away but we’re already having to make preparations for figgy to start kindergarten in 2012 which is a milestone I thought impressively distant … four years ago.



Back Up

22 February 2011

Dear J-

The TiVo is off doing its thing so that I can free myself from sitting in front of the video panel for now (okay, now I’m sitting in front of a different video panel that works fundamentally the same, what’s your point). It’s nice. I get to feel human again and in return spend time at home reflecting on what’s important. I think it’s one of those illnesses best treated by time off, not getting out of pajamas, and a pocket full of cough drops.

It feels like the weekend just started. I know, I made a long weekend even longer but if you saw me the last couple of nights, staggering around like the febrile infirm that I’d become. I was just starting to have some fun today, after all; it’s been nearly two weeks since I had to do real work and not training or the pleasant work of weekends spent chasing kids.

In what sense do we finally give up our selves? I’m reading about the distinctive retail names I remember as a kid — The Bon Marché, The Crescent — fiercely regional to an extreme and never realizing that they were part of a larger, nationwide conglomerate who finally realized that the economy of a fleet operation outweighed the distinct shopping pleasure of going to a store suited for your neighborhood and region. The Crescent in particular — I remember time spent searching for a parking space, then walking around the whole-block building to peek in the window displays that changed monthly and finally heading inside to see the wares. To know that the grand old building we used to run around in after work at the store was done is now carved up into retail spaces in the name of profit, not service, I dunno; I can’t see progress I guess.


Wound Down

15 July 2010

Dear J-

It’s the last day and I can’t say that I’m looking forward to the reality of tomorrow:  it’ll be another long night of class and driving — I plan on being out of the house from 0445 to 2100 — with homework that I haven’t done yet, either, naturally.  I spent most of the day uploading photographs from the trip, which gave me a chance to relive those moments, good and bad, and watch them in great relief and detail (though apparently not enough — I got the count wrong on figgy’s generation, which is now up to three plus three plus two plus one plus two plus one plus one — thirteen).  It was nice to go places this week.  It was also nice to have another day reserved to get out and do things on our own, too, from buying clothes (tomorrow is dress-like-a-cowboy day at the daycare) to watching a movie (Toy Story 3, well recommended to bring some tissues, though).

Better not to dwell on the future, nor wallow in the past.  Now it’s time to sleep and wind this week down gently; the rain earlier this afternoon broke the heat, finally; the past few days I’ve kept adding more and more water bottles to my load (it looks like it’s full of camera gear, but I was down to one extra lens and four water bottles by the end) and we’ve still managed to drain them all dry by the end of the day.  Tomorrow’s going to be fun again in a different way, as long as I make it so.


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?


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.


Daytime Nighttime

16 November 2006

What does it pay to play the leading lady
When, like the damsel in distress
Daytime nighttime suffering is all she gets– Paul McCartney, Daytime Nighttime Suffering

Dear J-,

They should have had the first reunion at fifteen years. Ten isn’t quite enough time to forget faces, and twenty, well, no one wants to be facing forty without making some kind of an effort. Fifteen is enough to have had some perspective, not just on high school, but on your life to date. Plus you’re at the point that those folks being born when you got your driver’s license are now menacing the elderly you on the roads.

Nothing quite like seeing all the significant milestones of your life fall to kids you remember baby-sitting to force you to grow up, right? I met someone today who confided his excitement in his first grandkid at one turn and the dismay of “finally having to grow up” in the next. Time moves ever forward; if I’m already afraid of tomorrow, how can I enjoy today? What is it, exactly? When do you give in and say that you’re getting old? The first white hair? Done. Music gotten too loud? Years ago, now. I’ve always thought that the baby boomers (and here I go tarring all with the same brush, just as I get slotted somewhere between Gen X and Y) were self-absorbed image-conscious youth-seeking idiots, but the older I get, the more I understand the truth behind “Age is just a number.”

We cling to the idealized memories of youth, not remembering living someone else’s life, those first fumbling attempts at love, waiting always waiting for changes pointing the way forward. I remember the delicious anticipation, the night before handing out the new trimester’s schedules and hoping that I’d have the right mix of folks — someone to crush on, someone to talk to, someone to keep the lonely away. How can you possibly know at eighteen who you are, let alone who you need? I’m in awe of childhood sweethearts who make it work; they remember the wonder of the new, the bloom of youth, the steady pace of life, the joy of every wakening.

Everyone dreams of being out on their own without thinking twice about what it might mean. I had roommates in college up until my last semester of senior year, and even that wasn’t so bad because I was semi-officially living with theVet by then (maintaining separate rooms for the public’s sake). Loneliness is coming home two thousand miles from everything you remember to the unheated house you rent from the landlady upstairs. Loneliness is the last bus of the night, riding past Fenway Park on game night and hearing the distant cheers. Loneliness is reading the “personalized” messages left when you asked for more signatures in your yearbook to reduce the desperation inside. Loneliness is realizing why you wrote and saved so many letters knowing you never followed up on them, all the while listening to something suitably nostalgic — let’s say the first album you bought alone. Alone.

Even though the overwhelming memory of Jamaica Plain is of that isolated loneliness, I still want to go back and wander through the Arboretum by myself; I want to wander, and then return and remember how lucky I am to have known so many people to call, so many people to write letters to. Nights I’m alone make it so much easier to be grateful.