flotsam

Delayed start

    My clock reads 7:25. The real clock, the one that’s tied into the cable system and not subject to the mental tricks I play on myself. All my other clocks read some variation on 7:35. Which means, I should be leaving for work now. If I leave for work now — on a normal day — I will just make it there in time to start at 8AM.

    But it’s not a normal day. Today I am not going into the office. They’ve called for a 10 AM delayed opening, but I have heard the reports and I can see out my window. The walkways that were cleared last night are all covered again, with no sign that anything had been done to them. The snow is still falling, and expected to continue into tomorrow. The wind is howling. I’ve heard it called a hurricane snow — acknowledgement that the winds will be a grade higher than blizzard conditions. I’d never heard of such a thing. People are preparing for the likelihood of power failures.

    So maybe we’ll be open today, and maybe we won’t. I’ll be working from the safety of my apartment. For as long as power, wireless signal, and adequate network response hold out, anyway.

    Meanwhile, my morning pace has slowed. No need to rush out a door. I am listening to the wind. I am watching the snow fall. I am drinking my coffee, made just as I like it. The scent of coffee and hazelnuts wafts in the air. The mug is warm in my hands. It bears the small colorful handprints of the loves of my life, and we-love-you-aunt-carol messages to warm my heart.

    It’s an awful morning out there. But it’s a nice day in here.

flotsam, travel

Travel moods: A new “Somewhere”

    When I first started traveling, there were a lot of emotional facets to it.

    One, sad to say, was a sense that the plain, quiet, homebody me was “not enough” and I needed to go and do more in order to be more. I had some sense that being a traveler would make me a more interesting person, when in fact it is probably quite possible to be a well-traveled bore.

    I also felt a need to prove something to myself — that I could go, that I was brave enough to go even if it meant going alone.

    I’m never alone, of course, so that’s a truly wonderful aspect to travel: getting out of the comfort zone of my life allows me to see how reliant I am on God’s goodness and mercy in ways I become blind to, start to take for granted, in the ordinaryness of day-to-day life.

    On a trip, it becomes so much more apparent how little is in my control, really. That can be terrifying. And it can be glorious.

    The other way in which I am not alone on my trips is that I meet people. I am not naturally outgoing, not easygoing with new people … maybe with most people, new or not. But the adventure of travel comes with trials, large and small, and with them come reasons to talk and moments of bonding with those around me.

    I have met some of the most interesting, and nicest, people while on an adventure. I wonder who I will meet next.

    I wonder what I will see next. Something beautiful, something exotic, something historic. Endless diversity, a fascinating balance of complexity and simplicity, the staggering and intricate beauty of nature, reflecting the God who created it. Or the bustle of a city … humming with the sounds of people — each one both simple and complex, each one a bundle of hopes and wishes and worries, each one beloved of God — and punctuated with their architecture, their art, their history — the attempts of man to reach immortality.

    I find myself almost greedy sometimes for the sights and sounds of a new place. Little achiever that I am, part of it is just to check of a little box in my head (“been there, done that”).

    More than that though, I want to experience new places. To see what of the place I will carry away with me. To discover what will capture and keep a piece of my heart there after I go.

flotsam, travel

Travel moods: Respite, however brief

    It’s not even March, and already I have a raging desire to get-the-heck-out. I’ve been putting in long hours — I always put in long hours, truth be told — but lately the timbre of it has changed. It feels necessary, essential; it’s not just what I need to do to keep ahead of things and provide the high level of service I think my customers deserve… it’s what I need to do to keep from actually falling behind.

    I’ve got 2 competing sets of responsibilities right now. One that I know well and do well; it’s a full-time job but at least I have a comfort level at it. The other is new, which means I’m learning. Learning is good. But it also means it takes a lot more brainpower, and time I don’t have,and gives me a ton more stress. The performance anxiety is just awful.

    The result is that I need almost 2 days for every 1 day I work. I can barely remember the last time I worked less than 10 hours a day. I do a lot of half-days lately (12 hour workdays) and last week I went to a conference where between the early starts and the full days and the evening outings, and then the necessity to log in and try to catch up on things that would otherwise pile up beyond my ability to manage them… I worked 15 hour days.

    In warmer surroundings, mind you. It wasn’t all bad. 🙂

    I try not to work on the weekends, other than to catch up on some of the reading I should be getting done and there just isn’t time for. Mostly I spend the weekends taking care of errands and letting my brain vegetate a bit. (Literally, in that I have a minor Farmville addiction going on.)

    Even so, last week’s 15-hour/day marathon did me in. I did very close to nothing all weekend — church and auto maintenance notwithstanding — and it wasn’t enough to recover. I still feel like I am really burnt out. I need to get out of here. I need to get away and unplug from all of this. Seriously.

    Seriously, who am I kidding? I know that if I go away, I will spend the week before stressed out even more because I need to clear my desk. And I will spend the week after stressed out trying to catch up. By the time I get behind my desk again, a vacation already seems like a distant memory; long ago and far away.

    “How was your trip?” Gosh, I don’t remember. And it was just yesterday.

    I need a break.

flotsam, travel

Travel moods: Starting Over

    I wonder sometimes if everyone gets the urge to abruptly pull up stakes and leave their whole life behind. Pack light, go to the airport, start over somewhere else. No forwarding address on file. This number is no longer in service.

    I wonder if perhaps there is a bit of Gypsy in my roots. I think I like the idea.

    I know it’s not uncommon, but maybe not everyone gets that feeling. I have friends who live in the same town they grew up in, and while they don’t mind going away once in a while, they enjoy having the deep roots. One friend, even when he leaves town, tends to turn conversations with strangers into a game of six-degrees-of-separation: He’s not looking to break all his ties; he’s looking for the ways that everything ties back to the world he knows.

    For me, the mood to leave my whole life behind is sporadic but strong. It usually comes when I’m feeling like I’m making a mess of things in one way or another, and a clean slate with no history sounds good. After all, if there were no witnesses to my real-or-imagined failure, maybe it didn’t happen.

    One friend reminds me that I can’t really do that: I would still bring me along after all, so ultimately it would still be the same life in a new place.

    He’s right, of course. I hate when he’s right.

    In any case, nothing will cure me of the “leave this all behind” sensation faster than, say, a deep one-on-one conversation with one of my girlfriends. Seeing (or even thinking about) my nieces. Walking into my church and being warmly greeted by familiar faces.

    Oh, I think I want to start over somewhere nobody knows me. But in reality, it’s nice to be known.

flotsam

Spread the Love, Decorate the World, Join in the Flower Show

February 14th is the Valentine’s Day Flower Show! It’s almost here!

“But, What Is It?”

Simply put, it is US! On February 14, dress your profile as a flower, and take part in the Show!

“But, Why?”

Well, there are plenty of reasons. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Because it’s fun.
  • Because flowers are pretty.
  • Because it’s Valentine’s Day, and there’s someone you want to send flowers to.
  • Because it’s Valentine’s Day, and you want some flowers for yourself (and let’s face it, you deserve them!)
  • Because you like real flowers, but the Valentine’s nonsense will have driven the price up by 300%.
  • Because online flowers won’t spark your allergies.
  • Because you have a viciously competitive streak and you’re hoping to show up all your friends with the most awesome display.
  • Because you’ve grown all these great bouquets of flowers on your Farm, and you’re just dying to show them off to your friends who aren’t addicted to the game… yet.
  • Because it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere and you’re sick to death of gray and snow and ice and cold, and you want a little taste of springtime.
  • Because it’s so darn hot in the midst of Southern Hemisphere summer, and a little springtime sounds kind of nice and refreshing to you about now.
  • Because it’s oddly fascinating and kind of cool to look around the community and see people all over the world sharing with you in this experience passed tangentally from person to person and group to group.

If none of those work for you, make up your own reason. Your reason for taking part is just as good as anyone else’s!

“But, How?”

Gosh, you are just full of questions today, aren’t you?

Well, actually, that’s a fair question to ask. To take part:

1. Select a flower image (following the usual rules about formats, ownership rights, file sizes, etc).

    How should you choose? Any way you want! Maybe a flower you grew in your own garden. Maybe one you took a picture of while away on vacation. Maybe a famous work of art that you enjoy with a floral motif. Maybe one that reminds you of someone you love, or maybe one in memory of someone you lost. Maybe just one you found somewhere, that you thought was pretty, or is your favorite color, or is your birth-month flower. There are a million ways to pick one, and a billion pictures to choose from out there. Hey, it’s your entry, make yourself happy! Or dedicate that picture to your Special Someone, and make them happy. It’s all up to you!

2. On Feb 14, set the picture as your default profile picture.

    If you have a profile on Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo, Twitter or any other socialish networky site, you’re welcome to join: change your image, profile or avatar (as the case may be) and spread the word. Yes, that’s right…

3. Pass the word along!

    One measure of a successful Flower Show is the volume of flowers it encompasses. (Quality is of course not an issue, because naturally you are all of Very High Quality indeed.) So let your friends and connections know what we’re doing! And as you travel through the ‘nets that day, visit the pages of other people who’ve decked themselves out to share in the Show!

Oh, this is going to be awesome! I can’t wait to see what a gorgeous garden we make together! I can’t wait to see our Flower Show come to life!

Spread the word, invite your friends, and let’s make the internet bloom!

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