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!

Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo and Twitter are registered trademarks of their respective owners.

flotsam

The hard conversation

Today I had the very difficult conversation with the boy I wish I liked more. He’s nice. He’s kind. He’s thoughtful. He’s good-looking and funny and smart. And he really likes me. But in one of those cruel ironies of life, I don’t feel it back. I mean, I like him, but I’m not in like with him, if you see what I mean.

At least, not now. Not yet. But since I don’t know if/when that might change, I had to tell him. Didn’t want to. Wasn’t fun. I’m sure it hurt him, but hopefully less than stringing him along indefinitely would have.

I guess it’s good to have that conversation behind me. In much the same way that I’m glad to be done with the shoveling. Which was also not fun. But hey, that’s one more storm down, and survived.

Stay warm out there.

flotsam

On the other foot

Several years ago I had what I like to think of as my last online dating experience. I was matched with and went out with a seemingly very nice man, we had a seemingly very nice first date, and two days later I got the nastiest email of my life from him. It was, in essence, a two-page dissertation on all the flaws he perceived in me throughout the course of the date.

Now (warning: understatement ahead) — I am far from perfect. I know this. I’m not particularly happy about it, but I am aware of it. Still, this message was off the charts. It was very upsetting, not just because of what it said (in point of fact, he seemed to take exception to everything I said or did that wasn’t a direct and overt compliment of him personally) but because it was terrible to think that I could have inadvertently hurt someone so much that they would feel compelled to send me such a message.

I didn’t save that email, but when I talked to close friends about it at the time, one angrily asked whether he thought he was being helpful by “correcting” me this way (the email I got from him months later implied that this had been precisely the case; thankyousoverymuch). Another wondered aloud what kind of person would bother to write such a message to someone… Why not just quietly disappear, as men so often do?

Oh no, I assured her. This was a case of be-careful-what-you-wish-for at its best.

At the time I had had such an unattractive chip on my shoulder about men who just abruptly vanish. And because I recognized that, I was actually glad that this one didn’t. After all, because he was so clear about it, I did not waste one moment of my life wondering if he was going to call, or why he hadn’t called, or what I could have done differently, or what it was about me that he didn’t like.

I knew the answer already: he didn’t like anything about me. I was, in short, the worst person he’d ever met.

He may, in fact, have actually said that.

That’s not a pleasant thought, of course, but one that’s incredibly liberating. I really didn’t give him, or any illusion of a potential “us,” another ounce of energy. And when he emailed me 9 months later to see if I wanted to give it another shot, I was confused by the suggestion, but not about how to answer it: Kindly, but in the emphatic negative.

But I suppose I had a new appreciation after that for the vanishing act.

—-

I really do understand why it would be easier to just stop calling than to just come out and say that whatever initial interest there may have been has dried up. We really don’t make it easy on a guy who’s telling us something we don’t want to hear.

First, we want to know Why. I suppose a “Why” makes us feel like we have some control over things, something we could fix for future reference. Though the truth is, unless it’s pretty major, the thing we would change because *this* guy didn’t like it might be the thing the *next* guy – or at least the *right* guy – would have really thought was cool about us. Hard to say.

In any case, the reality is that a lot of the time there is no clear “Why.” It’s hard enough for women to articulate their emotions and we get lots of practice; do we really expect men to be able to? And how do you articulate I wish I felt more for you than I do – you’re terrific and I should like you “that way” – but I just don’t and I don’t know how to muster it up in a way that will in any way satisfy our urge to understand? None of us knows why we feel something for one person and not another. Trying to explain it is not going to make it any clearer, and is pretty likely to hurt the person receiving that news.

Of course, they could make up a reason for us, if we really want to push the issue. (Or maybe there actually IS a reason, some flaw we should be working on.) But even if they give us a reason, there’s a risk we’re going to argue about it, as if we can reason our way back into the relationship he no longer wants. It’s not really up for debate at that point, but the inclination is there for us anyway.

Or we’ll get mad and think they’re a jerk.

Or we’ll cry which will make them feel like a jerk.

Yes, it would be nice if they could just man up and be straight with us, but what guy in his right mind wants to deal with any of the stuff we tend to put them through if they do?

Plus, some of them actually are jerks. You know those guys. They have a reason, and it’s a crappy reason. Like that although they do kinda sorta like us, they like someone else better. But they figure that if they don’t come out and say that, they can hedge their bets a bit. Hey, it might not work out with that other girl. Maybe if they don’t come right out and burn the bridge, but just leave us hanging around, they can come back and cross it again later, if they want to. Which, by the way, doesn’t indicate a very high opinion of us or where we’ll be when their first choice doesn’t pan out.

It’s a wonder that anybody dates anybody.

—-

And now, for all that… Suddenly I find myself with the shoe on the other foot.

Oh, I like the guy. I really do. He’s terrific. He’s sweet, and kind, and thoughtful. He’s attractive, and funny, and he likes me (which is a clear sign of good taste). I have a nice time when I’m with him, I enjoy his company…

But he feels it, and I just don’t. We’ve been out a few times, and I keep hoping something inside me will wake up and feel more for him than I do. I should. I wish I did. But I don’t. And because he’s such a great guy, and I don’t ever want to hurt him – and the longer I leave it, the greater the chance of that – I have to do something about it. I have to say something about it. And soon. And that’s going to hurt him too, and that sucks.

I have no idea how to go about it. Suggestions are so very welcome.

Of course, I’m not a guy. So I can’t just vanish on him. Bummer.

flotsam, reviews

Post-Lost musing

So the new season of LOST has begun. And as always, it’s a mind-twisting, thought-provoking journey. I have my theories, my thoughts, my impressions. There is a strong flavor of spiritual battle to the episodes of late. Is it intentional, is it only my read on it, or is it more misdirection before the final curtain falls?

Time will tell.

But what I found myself thinking in particular about after this episode, was the people I have met along my journeys. We are watching this odd dual reality… watching people we have come to know and who have come to know each other following the crash of Oceanic 815… an alternate path in which there was no crash, and they don’t know each other. Just strangers, who happen to have been on the same plane. That trip has meant different things to each of them. They’ve shared a journey, and yet not really shared it at all. They don’t see the importance they can or should have for each other. They don’t recognize each other, don’t know who they could be to each other, while as outsiders looking in, we do.

And I find myself thinking about all the people I have met along my own journeys. The trips and tours I’ve gone on, the wonderful people I have met along the way, and how thankful I am that some of us can still stay in touch, even this little bit that technology allows. Even where it has not, even if it did not, I would still carry the memory of them in my heart.

I find myself thinking too that we’re all on a journey, every day… whether it’s on a flight, or a train, or a bus, or the same road or same sidewalk with other people on their own journeys. Maybe the same people, over and over again, and we don’t realize it, don’t recognize them.

That person in the next car over… in another reality, that person might be a great friend, your best friend, a person who would change your life forever. The person you know so well that you no longer see could still surprise you with how much you love each other, if you just looked again with fresh eyes.

With this strange LOST perspective I will head off to bed. Next week they will send me off in new directions, and that’s OK too. For tonight, I am happy to think warm thoughts for the friends I have made around the world. You are in my heart and I do not forget. Thank you for sharing your journeys with me – may there be many more to come.