flotsam

Missing blue

It’s been a hot dry summer this year. The ground has been dry, that is; the air has been a nightmare of humidity. I haven’t had a good hair day in over a month. What little rain has fallen has been brief and light, barely wetting the ground and doing little to alleviate the heat, instead only fueling the humidity. The new grass seed the complex laid down in the common areas around the newly-poured sidewalks, left uncared for, creates an ugly swath of dull earth leading to the brittle brown mess of the existing courtyard grass.

We have needed some rain. We have needed a respite from the obnoxious sticky heat we’ve suffered through all summer.

Sunday, the sky opened up and released a torrent. Thunder roared and lightning flashed, and — as I learned later — low-lying areas experienced flooding. A low, gray cloudcover has hovered over us since, offering intermittent showers and giving a sleepy pre-dawn cast to the days.

It is great sleeping weather. Which may be why everyone seems only half-awake.

The meteorologists point out how unseasonably cool it is for August. I live on the top floor, where it’s always warmest, so I note happily that my electric bill that had soared to double it’s usual summertime high, will be falling closer to normal levels from lack of A/C use. I am also more pleased than most that for the first time in weeks it is actually comfortable. The days are not punishingly hot. At night, a light cover feels good.

In some ways, I am loving the cooler fall-arriving-before-fall temperatures, but even I wouldn’t mind seeing the open sky for just a bit. A little sunshine, the moon, some stars. This morning’s rain was a very steady mist. Too light to need to worry about umbrellas. It was cool, but not cold. But it is day four of The Gray, and I am missing blue.

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When dreams go bad

At first, it’s just a conversation, albeit a risque one. He asks me a logistical question about a sexual scenario for which neither of us has any first-hand experience. By its nature, I doubt he has interest in acquiring such experience, so while the question surprises me out of left field, it’s non-threatening. He’s just genuinely curious. I’m not exactly sure why he’s asked me, of course I can’t answer his question, but it leads to further conversation. I turn over on my stomach, hands under my chin, as we talk.

I glance away from him for a moment. From somewhere behind me, he says, “I saw what you were wearing before. You looked slutty.” I have no idea what he’s referring to, but since I can’t imagine any other reason he’d say it, I assume he’s being playful. I turn over, smiling, about to ask him if he liked it…

But he is gone. Someone else is there instead.

The man sitting on the edge of the bed is holding a gun. He aims it point-blank at my face. The weapon is the only thing I can really focus on. He is saying something to me. I am not making out what, other than a general sense of condemnation. I am vaguely aware that I’m not in my bed anymore; not in my room any more. None of this matters. I don’t know who he is, but I know he’s going to shoot me.

There is no chance he’ll miss.
There is no chance of escape.

The Nightmare
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I’m going to die. I don’t even get to scream…

I wake up with a start, terrified and shaking. I am in my room, in my bed, safe. It’s hours until morning. I lay back down, drift back into sleep, where more unsettling dreams await, each one successively less dangerous, less vivid, less easily remembered.

In the morning, I am exhausted.

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Friday into Saturday

Icon-type silhouette of an airplane. (Mainly t...
Image via Wikipedia

The work week ends. Evening begins to settle in. Housekeeping that has gone too long ignored at last being attended to. Surfaces cleared, papers filed, everything put in its place, floors swept or vacuumed. Closets reorganized, even. Highly productive, highly satisfying. Garbage bagged for removal, even the recycling ready to go out… Still light out, the sky only beginning to turn deeper shades of blue in preparation for sunset and darkness. I look up at a plane flying remarkably low overhead. Well, Newark isn’t so far away, really. What is surprising is that for all it is low to us, I don’t hear it. Strange. I continue back to the apartment. Venus is bright in the sky to my right, the only “star” that’s visible yet. As I turn to climb the stair, I look over my left shoulder. Another plane is following the first one. Based on the direction, this is the takeoff, not landing, queue for Newark. I still can’t hear the planes. How can they be so close, and yet so silent?

 

Morning. I shake off the grogginess of sleep. Morning rituals. The scale offers me a 1-pound reprieve, a small step nearer to a healthier me. I start coffee. Downstairs, my neighbors turn on music, to me it’s just base through the floor. The refrigerator hums. The computer harddrive grinds. The coffeemaker beeps its readiness. Downstairs a commercial shouts, and then a new song begins. Outside I hear car doors, a dog barks, a plane flies over.Last night was so silent, so peaceful. This morning seems obnoxiously loud. I think I need an aspirin.

flotsam, there is something wrong with me

Self-weirding

Does anyone else ever pre-emptively weird themselves out?

Here’s what I mean… I was once on a date with someone (with apologies to my long-time readers who may recall this) and had a colleague come up and say “hi” in the middle of it. And I was so discombobulated by the first-date business (I am both flirting- and dating-impaired) that I hugged the guy. My colleague, I mean. You know, like you hug an old friend when you run into them. But I don’t hug current colleagues under normal circumstances, so that was a weird thing to do. We finished our brief greetings and then he walked away (unfazed by the event) but I was totally confused and befuddled and weirded out, thinking about how that might have been a bizarre thing to do, and how I might have weirded him out by doing it.

See how this works?

An example of Blue-Green eyes. Self-made.
Image via Wikipedia

Last week I did it again. I was sitting with a girl on my team who is going to be taking over a part of my responsibilities. And at one point she turned to me to ask a question. And we made brief eye contact, which apparently normal people are capable of doing every-so-often in the course of conversation. She has really pretty green eyes. And I said so. And then I wondered, post-blurt, if that was a weird thing to say, especially to a colleague. So immediately I became all confused and befuddled and weirded out about possibly weirding her out.

I think too much. I especially think too much about stupid stuff.

flotsam

Linguistic double standards

A girl in my office is fond of telling her kids that energy begets energy. And this was about to be a blog about that thought, but I’ve gotten myself off track and into even-more-random-than-usual flotsam in the first sentence…

If she has kids, and she’s working in my office (for some significant number of years now), it’s safe to say she’s not a girl, she’s a woman. If a man called her a “girl” it would smack of offense. Belittlement. But I’m a girl (ahem, woman) so I can call her a girl, and it’s just a friendly thing. An acknowledge of her youthful and vibrant spirit, even. It in no way indicates that I have anything but the utmost respect for her abilities, her talents, her experience, or her person.

So now I am thinking about the fact that it’s OK for me to call a woman in my office, “the girl in my office” and not OK for a man in the office — who may feel the exact same way about her professionally as I do — to do the same.

That’s not really fair.  (No one said life would be fair, though every one of us rails about it sometimes. And most of us hate being reminded that no one said life would be fair.)

Even as I reserve the right for all time to refer to women as girls if I want, I’m not sure how I feel about these linguistic double standards —


There are the mild instances. For instance, there are people who call me “honey”. “Honey” is not a bad word, by any means — any more than “girl” is a bad word. But “honey” is not my name. If someone is not dating me, and not a member of my immediate-family-slash-inner-circle, “honey” is not really appropriate for someone to call me. But how offended I choose to be varies based on who says it, and in what context. Anyone over a certain age, or maybe from certain parts of the country, will probably get raised eyebrows… but ultimately a one-time pass on “honey” because I’ll write it off as a cultural thing; no offense intended. If any of my colleagues called me honey, on the other hand, I would be a bit miffed.

So guys, if you tend to call women “honey” or “sweetheart” — even if calling women sweetheart or honey or paying them personal compliments is really just a reflex from your upbringing — you might want to stop to consider whether the recipient might be offended (or confused about your intentions) by it.

Obviously, there are worse things you could call me than a girl, or honey, or sweetheart. In fact, there are some things that I recommend you never call any woman, anywhere. At least not if you value your life.


So, yeah, there are the more obvious cases. I don’t understand and don’t buy into “bitch” as a term of endearment, even among women. I instinctively flinch when I hear someone use the “n word” no matter who they are or how they are using it — I know it’s just a word, and I suspect that how it is intended should probably matter more than the word itself (or even who is saying it) — but I was brought up to think of that word as hateful, hurtful, and forbidden.

But I understand, too… if a group that’s been injured by a word makes it their own, then that word loses its power to hurt and separate people.

Or it should over time, in theory. For now though, unless you intend it as hate-speech, you can only use the n-word if you look a certain way, and you can only refer to someone as queer if you love a certain way, and you can only use the c-word if… well, if you want the woman nearest you to have a psychotic break and club you to death or rip your still-beating heart from your chest.

Not everything’s a double standard. Just saying.

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Bragplaining

    To use the Urban Dictionary word of the day from a few days ago, what I’m about to say constitutes bragplaining:

    I have too much time I need to take off, and no clear way to do it.

    First off, that constitutes bragplaining because I have a job. Not everyone who wants a job has one right now (or ever, but especially now) and so there’s a certain amount of shut up and be grateful that needs to be recognized. I have a job. I am thankful for that. I sincerely wish and hope and pray for provision, for all those out there who are looking for work.

    Second off, it’s bragplaining because not everyone who is working has any time off. I get that. I have been on an hourly wage, where every day off is a day unpaid. And I worked for almost 4 years at a company that gave a miniscule amount of vacation time per year, and didn’t allow any carryover from year to year, making an extended vacation ever well nigh to impossible. Trust me, I get how much it stinks never to be able to get away from the job we’re ever-so-thankful-for.

    Once I got back to a company that gave some days (the time off I was offered was as big if not a bigger selling point than the salary) and allowed some vacation carryover, I became a voracious hoarder of time. Which is what brought me to my current dilemma.

    Add to that the current business climate in which no one feels like they dare be away from their desk lest someone decide they aren’t needed, and here we are, an entire natioin of people who refuse to use up their meager vacation time.

    For me it’s not so much that I think I’d lose my job if I went away. I refuse to live in fear: I’ve been downsized before, chances are good it will happen again, and one survives it, grows from it, comes out ahead later (even if sometimes it’s much later).

    It’s not that I’d necessarily lose my job… it’s that my calendar is full already. I’m full-up with meetings and projects and training sessions until end-September. Then in October, I start my new role in earnest. My boss is anxiously awaiting that glorious day. She’s building a long list of projects to give me. I can’t see her being excited about giving me days off then.

    Somehow, amidst this madness, I need to get a couple of days to go see my Sis and family. A couple of days, fercryinoutloud, and I’m not sure how to swing it. Somehow I will; promises have been made to small people. But the how of it remains a mystery.

    At this rate, the only way I can use up my time, during a lull period for our department, and not lose any, is for me to take the last 2 weeks of the year off.

    Hmm. That would be summertime in Australia or New Zealand. I’m sure that my family would all understand if I wasn’t around for the holidays. And if I didn’t have any money left for presents, what with the travel expenses. It would be fine.

    Ha.

flotsam

The question is not how many of me it takes to screw in a lightbulb…

    The more pertinent questions are:

    • How many times will I flip the light switch before I actually decide to change it?
    • Will I, in fact, hit that light switch in the process, as if to throw light on the task of changing the bulb?
    • and of course

    • How many more times will I successfully change this particular bulb (and of necessity fiddling with the annoying light fixture over it), without toppling off the chair and down the stairs in the attempt?
      •  

        Mysteries for the ages, indeed.

flotsam

Hermit in the Making

    It doesn’t particularly matter what happens in the course of a day. If I interacted with anyone, I probably had a bad day. By which I mean, at some point — when I’m driving home, while I’m making dinner, or when I’m lying in bed at night — I’m going to start picking apart some conversation I had, and torturing myself about whatever I said. Or didn’t say. Or should have said differently. Pick, pick, pick. Fail, fail, fail.

    Yes, this is me. Totally self-centered.

    Of course, I know. I know it’s not all about me. I know that I’m not the center of the world – that I’m not supposed to be and don’t particularly want to be the center of even my own little world – and that it’s more than likely whatever I’m torturing myself about didn’t even make the radar of the person I talked to. That if anything, they are lying awake torturing themselves about whatever they wish THEY didn’t say during the course of the day.

    Which is a lot less comforting than you might think.

    Not much help for it. Tomorrow I’m going to interact with people — I’ll enjoy interacting with them — and then later I’m going to stress myself about it. Only way to solve that is to become a hermit.

    And that’s probably not going to happen.

    Probably.