30 March 2010


Ah, spring -- that loveliest, most bipolar of seasons! Balmy, sweet afternoons and midnight tornadoes. And unlike hurricanes, tornadoes aren't likely to clear the air. The morning after a hurricane seems most often to be bluer than blue, bright and gleaming; after a tornado, it just rains some more. Hurricanes are temper tantrums; tornadoes are the psychotic break before a major depressive episode.

Sunday, they had tornadoes back home. From the looks of things on the Weather Channel Monday morning, it was still raining in North Carolina. Up here in Kentucky, yesterday was just -- how do I say this? -- bleh.

But I was at the office, and it was Monday. And right now, I don't do Mondays. At least not at the office. I was there because I had one project -- four pieces of Health Literacy revisions -- that I needed to run through the assessment tool, which I can't get to from home. I went in at 7 a.m. with Mr. Early Bird, and I'd hoped to be out by 9 a.m., on the way home to finish out the day at my desk by the window.

No such luck. The phone kept ringing, the Health Literacy pieces kept refusing to go below a 7th grade reading level (we shoot for 6th), and I finally realized I was going to miss the 10 a.m. bus home and decided enough was enough. I borrowed a helmet from my friend Kirk, who keeps a spare at his desk, and I checked out a B-Cycle.

We have bikes where I work. You can sign up for a B-Cycle card, get a helmet that's just your size (Kirk's took some adjusting...), and then when you need wheels for a short hop (or in my case, a longer haul), you put on your helmet, scan your card, choose a bicycle, and it's yours for 24 hours. They're good, solid bikes, heavier than Nellie Belle, but with great baskets and -- I have to admit -- somewhat more precise gears. They're a little harder to shift, because they're the dial-on-the-grip type; we old ladies with the beginnings of arthritis in our hands sometimes have trouble with the grip required to turn them. But they are more finely tuned than the little "thumb-clicker" ones like Nellie Belle has.

The weather yesterday was chilly. It was supposed to be in the 50s, but it didn't get there until almost sunset, after the clouds broke. At 10 a.m., it was foggy, damp, and still in the low 40s with a wind chill in the 30s. Actually, it felt almost exactly like it did in November, the day before Thanksgiving. And the route was much the same. Not bad -- unless you don't have gloves.

I stopped at the bike shop; all the winter stock was gone, and all they had were fingerless riding gloves. Better than nothing.

I rode four miles before the #15 bus caught up with me, and I took it to the end of the line, then rode from Holiday Manor out Brownsboro Road to Goose Creek. It's a nice ride, except that the shoulder is one continuous 6"-wide rumble strip and nothing else, and at least one driver in a white Lexus seemed to think that was where I should be. Ms. Lexus needs an education in bicycle law, but we'll save that for later.

Goose Creek to Westport Road -- four very civilized lanes. Yes, the traffic moves faster, but the lanes are wider, the shoulders are a good four feet across for the most part, and people aren't inclined to cut as close as on Brownsboro (or worse yet, Herr Lane, which is a cyclist's nightmare -- I'd rather ride on Shelbyville Road at the malls). Then down Frey's Hill past Tom Sawyer Park, over to Evergreen and down to the Middletown Breadworks, where my daughter was working. Last stop, both yesterday and last November. Then was for bread; yesterday was for the house keys.

When you're chilled at the extremities and slightly sweaty otherwise, you can make a great lunch of peanut butter and a multi-grain bagel with a glass of diet Sprite on the side. And it's just the right amount of fuel for the last four miles home.

16 miles altogether -- not a bad ride for the first real commute of the season.

Pedal on! WOO-HOO!!

28 March 2010

Jazz in the dark

I'm not sure how I came to love jazz.

Okay, let me back up a little bit. I'm not sure "love" is the right word. You probably need to understand the basis of this relationship to know what I mean.

I can kinda-sorta trace my musical history back to when I was very small and would borrow my mother's albums - real albums - to play on my record player. If you're too young to know what I'm talking about, let me draw you a picture:

These "albums" predated vinyl. Or maybe they were early vinyl, but having broken one or two, I can tell you they were two pressed layers with a thin piece of paper sealed between. So they weren't light, and they had NO flexibility. If you remember vinyl "boxed sets," you can visualize what I'm talking about, but the records in the paper sleeves that lived inside the box were heavy, clunky things that played at 78RPM, meaning one cut to a side - two, at most. An album might contain as many as 4-6 discs. And one disc probably came close to weighing as much as my whole Eric Clapton boxed set from the early '90s. (Or was it late '80s? I think '90s...)

Mom didn't have a lot of albums. She's a "Depression Baby" - ever frugal. She still buys only what she truly needs, whether the need is physical or spiritual. So I know these albums were precious to her. She had a radio/phonograph - a great, hulking thing that was actually quite compact for the time I first remember it, in the late '50s. It had the speaker in the front, along with the tuning and volume knobs; behind that, the top lifted to allow access to the turntable. [There's a comparable model on eBay, pictured above - get 'em while they last! :-)

When I got old enough to handle them carefully and demonstrated with my own little "kiddie song" 78s and 45s that I could operate the tone arm without dragging, Mother let me take her records to my room sometimes. I would spend hours playing "Begin the Beguine" and "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," dancing with my imaginary friend, Manny Lee (don't ask - I have NO idea where he came from), and making up stories woven with music.

I took piano lessons in grade school and high school. The piano probably saved my sanity during those grindingly depressing years. I quit lessons at one point, for political and moral reasons (my teacher went off on a racist rant in the middle of a lesson, and I walked out), but I didn't stop playing. I actually majored in music one semester during my first trip to college. Loved applied lessons; hated theory.

I haven't played much in the ensuing years, but music still lives at the center of my existence. There's a radio, stereo, or CD player in almost every room in the house. In recent years, my iPod Shuffle has kept me going through wicked workplace toxicity; I can crank up Janis Joplin to the point where nothing can compete with "Piece of My Heart" and "Mercedes Benz," and the gossip just goes away.

I had my first-ever "contact high" in 1974 at a performance by the Paul Winter Consort on the campus of San Jose State University in San Jose, CA. The joint came down the row, and I obligingly passed it to the next person over without taking a toke - I'd never seen a joint before, up close and personal, and I had no idea what to do with it except pass it on. Turned out I didn't have to do anything. The air on our row was pretty dense, and I misplaced myself somewhere between the smoke and the music and didn't relocate the home planet until sometime the next day. Although truth to tell, when I listen these days to those old PWC records and think about how jazz affects me now, without "enhancement," I think it may have been as much the music as the weed.

Sometime in the '90s, I won a couple of tickets from a local radio station to see Joe Lovano at a little club in Raleigh. By that time, I'd been listening to jazz for years; my favorite way to spend a Sunday morning was playing hooky from church, sewing or writing and listening to Kitty Kinnen, the Sunday morning jazz DJ on my favorite mostly-rock station. Kitty was at the club that night; we chatted briefly between sets. The thing that sticks in my mind, though, is my epiphany.

As I said, I don't know when I really got into jazz. Maybe with Paul Winter; maybe even a couple years before, with Jimmie Spheeris. But I do remember that night, sitting at our table, listening to Joe and watching the percussionist. I love percussion, too; I wanted to play drums at one point in my merrily ADHD past. I love the physical effect, the reach-out-and-grab-you punch, of down-and-dirty percussion at close range. And I remember staring at the shimmering cymbals over the top of my glass of red wine - I only had one - and watching the light dance off the metal and knowing without even thinking (although I heard the words in my head, like a message from the Universe):

Music is a physical entity, and this is what it looks like.

It seemed, in that instant, I could see the sound waves emanating from the cymbals.

I told you that to tell you this:
A few years ago, I sang in a couple or three choirs conducted by Harry Pickens, a brilliant jazz pianist, composer, and educator. He's one of the most fun choirmasters I've ever worked with, and one of the most capable. He can pull a top-flight hour-long performance from a wildly multi-cultural (and multi-lingual) 50+ voice choir with only a handful of rehearsals, and have no one mad at him when it's over. He can fuss out the goof-offs and make them laugh at the same time. It's a true gift from the Universe, that.

Ever since that first choir, I've made a point of going to performances of the Harry Pickens Trio whenever I can. It's not as often as I'd like, lately; the best local venue - the Jazz Factory - shut down a couple years ago, and it's hit or miss since then. One night, I was determined to go to a concert Harry did with Voces Novae at Christ Church Cathedral downtown, but got lost and didn't make it until half an hour after the performance started. I went home rather than distract everyone by opening the street door in the middle of the concert.

But tonight, I got there. Harry and trio played at Second Presbyterian Church in St. Matthews, and in spite of almost being T-boned by a crazy Volvo-driver who ran the stop sign at St. Matthews Avenue and Napanee Road (and continued on oblivious for a couple more blocks - I resisted the temptation to follow and deliver a lecture), I arrived and found a seat before the concert began.

I was rewarded in the first set with several favorites, "What a Wonderful World" and "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" among them. The lights stayed on in the beautiful sanctuary, and I was able to crochet musical prayers into the shawl I'm making for a young friend. (The acoustics, by the way, are unbelievably good at Second Pres. The sanctuary is a good-sized room, but at one point, Harry walked away from the mic while talking, then asked, as an aside, if we could hear him. And we could -- perfectly.)

The second set began with Harry asking who knew about Earth Hour. It happened this evening -- one hour set aside for everyone globally to turn off their lights, as a demonstration that we two-leggeds are smart enough to know how to conserve what we have. (I knew about it from the Lion Brand Yarn weekly newsletter that came in yesterday's e-mail, along with two lovely new free crochet patterns.) And then he said that, except for the ones that were legally required for safety, they were going to turn off the lights and play in the dark for a bit.

The next half-hour was a journey for me. I didn't have to worry about getting sleepy in the dark, because I'd had a good nap this afternoon. (Naps are sacred time. Seriously.) I couldn't crochet, because even after my eyes adjusted, I couldn't see enough to pick up where I'd left off. I can work without looking once I get started, but not right off the bat.

So there we were, suddenly -- just me and my brain, in the dark, us and the music, and nothing to do with our hands. And I realized, I don't do "still."

I do yoga. Once or twice a week, I take my mat and my wobbly self to class and I learn to focus, to zero in on a mantra or a pose as a state of being. I work at just breathing, just being. I learn to redirect my thoughts to non-thoughts. I use those two hours or so a week to turn off the left brain and give the right brain a little time to recuperate, if not heal.

But it's not the same.

No, it wasn't that hard. My right brain is in pretty good shape, especially for one whose owner is so into words. But it was enlightening.

Unlike yoga class, no one directed my attention. There was no voice telling me what to do, how to move, where to focus, what to align. No one instructed me how to keep my balance. There was the music, there was my brain, and there was my brain on music.

It took me a couple minutes to adjust to the fact that crochet was out. You need to understand, I use crochet as a way to pay attention during meetings. If I can occupy my hands, the right brain stands a chance of shutting up long enough to let the left brain absorb the discussion. I've pissed off a few Big Cheeses, crocheting in their meetings, but I assure you they were pissed because I distracted them, not because I wasn't paying attention. They had no way of knowing whether I was paying attention, unless they asked me afterward something about what they said - which they didn't.

But I realized tonight the vast difference between paying attention by making the right brain shut up so the left brain can listen, and paying attention by just letting the right brain do it all. Crochet is a work-around. Not-crochet is work. Not-crochet is true focus. In fact, I think it's what we reach for in yoga class, if we really reach. And I don't think I'd been there before.

Once, sitting there in the dark, the words moved back in. It was right at the end, with "The Shadow of Your Smile." It was one of my favorite songs "Back Then," along with "Windmills of Your Mind" and "Autumn Leaves" and a lot of Jacques Brel - back when I played the piano at 3 a.m. because I couldn't sleep, when adolescent anxiety almost succeeded in pulling me over the edge of the abyss. I still know all the words, and they came back.

But even then, that verbal brain couldn't take over completely. The visual brain was in control. And the image I saw was a skinny girl, sitting at a piano in the middle of the night, knowing her mother was awake and listening and not mad at all at being awakened. A skinny girl with sandy braids and green eyes too big for her narrow face, her long fingers reaching well over an octave, tentatively improvising between the written notes and singing softly the words she'd long since memorized. A skinny, wistful girl who had no idea about being in love, reaching for the emotion of love let go - as envisioned by her three-times-older self, who learned some decades back what letting go feels like for real.

It was a mind movie of the first order. If they gave out Oscars for that category, I think we'd have a good shot.

This isn't much of a concert review. It is a from-the-heart account of where my history with the jazz greats of the 20th century -- Gershwin, Hancock, Porter, and others -- has brought me. And how it feels, at the age of 55-and-a-half, to be transported back four full decades and be glad the music kept me alive so I could be here now.

So, see - "love" is completely inadequate. I love Toll House chocolate chip cookies. I love Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia frozen yogurt. I love Anne Lamott, Barbara Kingsolver, and the Beatles. And Clapton, and Janis. And Dean Martin. On another level, I love my kids and my dogs and my husband - not necessarily in that order. I love my siblings and my mom. Across the Divide, I love my dad and my Uncle Paul. We can keep going deeper if you want.

Or we can just say "love" isn't enough. Jazz doesn't satisfy my emotional self or my intellectual self or even my crochet-brained self. Jazz, as it existed tonight at that ever-alive moment in eternity, doesn't satisfy. Jazz is. Jazz defines. Jazz writes the script, sets the stage, picks the cast, designs the lighting.

Tonight, I saw it again: Jazz, for me, doesn't reflect life. Jazz is a simple, almost tangible form of life. If you turn off the lights, put down the crochet (or the book or the phone), and let it carry you downstream - if you have the nerve, the courage, the daring to let go control of your left brain and allow the gut-level, physical, tangible Music to take over - Jazz is life.

13 March 2010

Living Water

Living Water

There’s a woman in the New Testament who encountered Jesus in his travels. She was a Samaritan, the first-century ancestor of a Palestinian, I guess – the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Even then, the Palestinians and Israelis couldn’t quite manage to get along. In fact, even then, they pretty much never even tried. The Children of Israel were the Chosen Ones, the Samaritans were the “red-headed step-children,” and they despised each other for reasons that were essentially flip sides of the same coin. Anyone who’s survived a stiff case of sibling rivalry will get it:

“Dad likes me best.”

“You are so stuck on yourself.”

“Yeah, well, you’re stupid.”

“Yeah, well, you’re stupider, ‘cause you think Dad likes you best.”

“Yeah, well, he does.”

“So? I can still beat you up, and if you tell, I’ll tell Mom you swung first. She likes me best.”

So there they were: Yeshua the Chosen on the road, passing through the back yards of the red-headed step-children, and this woman out doing her daily routine. She went up to the well to get water for her household, and there was this man – this clearly Israeli man – sitting there, apparently waiting for something. “Give me some water?” he asked.

“You’re asking me for water?” she responded. “I’m surprised you’d stoop to speak to me – you and your stuck-up, holier-than-thou Israelite self!”

“Yep,” he said, “I’m asking you for water. Please?” He didn’t have to. She was already drawing the water, and she’d already picked up the little cup to fill for him. But his mama taught him manners, so he did say “please.”

And then he told her some things about herself she’d just as soon keep under the rug, and he offered her living water.

Of all the characters in the Bible – and it’s full of characters, in every sense of the word – this woman is probably the one I most identify with. First, she’s an oddball even among her own townspeople. She doesn’t do things the way everyone else does, and they don’t approve. She’s pretty used to getting odd looks.

She’s been married five times, and she’s currently “living in sin” with some guy. I can’t quite match her there, but I’ll tell you this: as far as the Episcopal Church is concerned, I’ve used up my quota of church weddings. I have to say, I’ve wondered about this woman on that particular count. What happened to her husbands? Did the Samaritans not take quite as dim a view as other folks in those parts of women divorcing and remarrying? Had the husbands been brothers who died one after another and left her childless? If the Samaritans were going by the same rules as the Israelites, each “next brother” would be obligated to marry her upon the passing of his older sibling, in an attempt to keep the gene pool filled. And if that was the case, what was the problem? Why was she coming out in the middle of the day, when it was hot and dusty and no one else was there? Why, for that matter, was Yeshua’s tone a little bit condescending? I mean, when you read how he brings it up, it sounds like he’s calling her on it – zapping her for something she’d rather he not call attention to.

But I digress. It’s one of my favorite things to do, but there’s a point here, and it’s not the Samaritan gene pool.

Basically, this woman is an odd duck at best. She goes about her business while everyone else is taking their siestas. Whether it’s because they’re liable to throw rocks at her if she comes out when they do, or she just prefers her own company to that of her neighbors, she doesn’t hang out with them much. As a lifelong odd duck who has often preferred my own company to that of the jocks and “mean girls,” and who didn’t fit in with the “Pseudo-Intellectuals” I hung around with – yes, we actually called ourselves that, and I didn’t fit because I was shy about voicing my opinion, which is definitely not a Pseudo-Intellectual trait – and who usually felt a little ill at ease with the blue-collar kids because they seemed to think, as a preacher’s kid, I was a cut above everyone else and I knew I wasn’t… Well, you get the idea. I know exactly where this odd duck is coming from.

And we’ve both been married multiple times. Not even twice – multiple. Whether it’s about children or the company of someone with whom we can be on equal footing, intellectually and emotionally, we had to come back and try again more than once. We weren’t willing to settle for less than what we needed, and we bucked the norm in the process of looking for someone to fit the bill. In Samaria or in a small town in North Carolina, that will get you some funny looks, I guarantee. And on occasion, even a rock or two.

The other thing about this woman, though, is that she was looking for something. She thought it was water for her bucket. Yeshua saw past that. He saw someone who was looking for a truth she hadn’t yet defined, might not even know if she saw it, but was looking for it nevertheless.

I’ve been doing that all my life. In trying to fit in and in pretending not to care that I didn’t fit in; in the company of others and of just myself; in the books I’ve read, the music I’ve loved, the jobs I’ve worked at, the friends I’ve cultivated – few of those, but with bonds that, for the most part, are unbreakable – I’ve looked. I’ve known the truth wasn’t as simple as people made it out to be; that sometimes you have to struggle to understand it. And sometimes you can know in your heart it’s the truth, but your gut still just refuses to let you believe it.

So I can relate to this woman. Never mind the centuries and the cultural differences. We both come from the same place.

A few years ago, I was assigned to write a Lenten meditation using this passage. I fought with it for about a month; I couldn’t get my head around it. Everything I thought of was more of the same; the Woman at the Well has been preached to death. Everyone already knew the punch line – the one about “living water,” you know – and there was nothing new to say.

Then, in the week before I was to turn in my essay, we had a hurricane. This was North Carolina, where hurricanes sometimes blow in and retain their hurricane-force winds halfway into the state. And I was living in just about the center.

This particular hurricane hit with a vengeance. It went ‘way past us in Smithfield and Wendell and Zebulon. In fact, by the time it got to us, I don’t think it had even slowed down much. It was a lot of miles up the road before it started winding down. I remember standing in my front door around midnight, watching the rain blow sideways – literally sideways – and wondering whether the 200-year-old oak tree out front would stay vertical through the night.

When the wind died and the rain stopped, there was a whole lot of water in places there hadn’t been any. Dips in the road had become streams, streams were rivers, ponds now were lakes. We couldn’t go anywhere for a few days, because the roads were all flooded.

Late in the week, I finally was able to drive into Raleigh by way of Poole Road, the two-lane “back way” into the city. I made several stops to take pictures of the amazingly alien landscape, and then I came to the bridge at the Neuse River.

The Neuse runs between two ridges that are uncommonly high for that place on the border between the Coastal Plain and the Piedmont. In fact, Poole Road in general is pretty hilly, but the banks of the Neuse are steep even for Poole Road. The bridge sits a good 20 feet or more above the water as a rule, and that’s if we’ve had regular rain.

Not that day. I had to stop on the other side of the bridge and walk back. I stared, and I trembled. The rushing brown water, stained dark with loam and clay washed from far up the banks and bark from great, dense trees uprooted and swept along, was no more than two or three feet below the bridge where I stood. I was terrified and awestruck. It was like watching the proverbial train wreck: I was scared to death of what I was seeing, but I couldn’t look away. I couldn’t turn and walk away from it.

I knew if I slipped and fell into that wild torrent, I would panic. I would surely struggle, and I would surely drown. There’s no telling where I might wash up.

And I got it.

This is what Yeshua offered that woman. This was living water. It was crazy, it was scary, it was too powerful for words. To accept it was to be swept away, to be changed forever. To dive into the living water meant to understand she might be giving up everything. The Samaritan woman had no way of knowing what would happen after this. She could only hope to ride the current and come out alive.

“Living water,” he said. “You’re giving me water from your well, but I can give you living water, and you’ll never be thirsty again. You’ll be transformed, you may be scared to death – your life will never be the same. You take this living water I’m offering, and all I can promise is that you’ll be thrown off the deep end, right there. No turning back, no matter how terrifying it becomes.

“But you’ll know. You’ll see the truth, and you’ll be able to believe it. Your heart and your gut will meet, and you'll find the answers to your questions. You won’t be thirsty any more – you’ll be swept downstream in the massive, raging current that is the Almighty, and you’ll wash up wherever that current washes you. And you’ll know. You will know.”

It’s a terrible, awful, frightening thing he offers us. If we have any sense at all, we know enough to quake in our boots. This isn’t rowing your boat “merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily.” Life isn’t “but a dream.” This is stepping out of the boat onto the fiercely choppy water and trusting – hoping, anyway – we won’t drown.

This is real. It’s beyond intimidating. And if we want to know the truth, and we want the truth to make us free, we have to do it. We have to step off the bridge into that living water and let go.

Kyrie eleison. Lord, have mercy.

10 March 2010

And about those socks...

No, I didn't crochet them. (duh...) Bought 'em a few weeks ago at Whole Foods Market in Louisville. Actually pretty reasonably priced for knee socks - eight bucks, maybe?

I call them my "mantra socks." I wore them to the office the day we got the Big News. And besides helping me stay "grounded" in an oddly tangible way, they're exceedingly comfortable!

09 March 2010

A friend recently pointed out to me – more than once – that the title of my blog has potential beyond the title of a blog. Expanding on that theme, I'm stepping out a bit and posting, for your edification, what it's really all about.

My friend Curt is right. "Pedal on regardless" has become my tagline because it means something to me. Yes, I love riding my bike. Witness the posts from last summer after The Accident, and consider that I'm still riding – you do the math! But my beautiful Nellie Belle, the blue Bianchi I bought because I know I'll never be able to afford an Italian sports car, symbolizes more in my mind than a nice ride, a good workout, calories burned, or even great times with friends and family. The time I spend on the back roads of Kentucky, Indiana, New Jersey, and anywhere else we might be are reflections of the times of my life.

I think Nellie Belle and I have picked up a thing or two along the way that may be important. We'd like to share, if you're interested. These thoughts will be posted here for a few days, anyway, until I decide where else they should go.

Pedal on!

Pedal On Regardless

  1. First – regarding hills: What goes down must go back up. Sometimes it’s tough. Deal with it.
  2. Second: You can ride alone if you like, but the hills are usually easier to pull if there’s someone to cheer you on.
  3. You’re not going to get anywhere if you try to coast all the way, but there’s nothing wrong with coasting sometimes!
  4. If you fall off, get back on and keep pedaling. If you’re afraid of looking foolish, you’re clearly not yet a true cyclist.
  5. If you let the fear of getting hurt stop you, you’ll never get out of the driveway. (Want to see my scars?) Trust me, it’s worth the risk.
  6. You won’t get lost. You might get momentarily misplaced. Think of it as an inadvertent side trip and enjoy yourself – you’ll find your way home after a while.
  7. If you can’t go as far as you wanted today, add a couple miles tomorrow.
  8. Never head out without a little cash and a fully charged cell phone.
  9. Life happens. Circumstances happen. You choose the perspective.
  10. The point is, keep going. You can do it!

06 March 2010

Working from home

I've been laid off before. It was scary as T-mortal hell. No idea how I was going to pay the bills, pay the rent, feed my kid(s) [quantity depending on which time we're talking about]. So if you're there and you're scared, I know how that feels. Please don't take what follows as instructions for how you're supposed to respond. Although if you can find some truth or a little bit of a deep breath in it somewhere, that's a good thing.

The point I want to make is that taking a deep breath helps. Whether you know what you're going to do next or not - whether you have time to think about it or not. Stopping and breathing deeply is good. It helps you calm down.

It also helps - when your workplace in those last few weeks is a nest of disgruntled people, some because they're about to be out of work and others because they're not happy about being left behind, stuck in the mire - to have a manager who believes in you in spite of it all. One you can go to and say, "May I please work from home a couple days a week? I have to get out of here..." and who responds, "Sure - you work wherever you want. I know it's going to get done, and the finished product will be good, wherever you do it."

(On the other hand, it does once again beg the niggling little question, "How did they decide who was getting let go and who was staying?" And then, sometimes there's no answer, and you just have to move on.)

So for the duration - middle of May-ish, until the agency they've hired to take over for us is ready to take over - I'm home two days a week. Maybe more, by the time it's all said and done. Mondays and Fridays, I can sit in my kitchen in the sunshine, or in my home office once I get it moved back upstairs, and work in peace. No one complaining about having to be there, no one in a panic about what they're going to do when 2/3 of the staff is gone, just me and my assignments and my e-mail account and in-house IM, if I decide to turn it on. If people use it too much for what they perceive as emergencies - things that consume their whole being for the moment but actually fall much lower on the scale of "Grander Scheme of Things" - I'll turn the IM off.

The company will still get its 40 hours out of me each week. As always, it will in fact probably get a little more most weeks, simply because I still love what I do, and I'm notoriously NOT a clock-watcher. But two days a week, I will have the freedom to break when I want, to play with the dogs for a few minutes, to walk outside to the garden for a stretch. I will be able to walk away for a whole hour or more and ride my bike as far as I want, then come back with my brain untangled and be able to focus better, longer. I'll be able to play my music as loudly as I want, sing out loud and dance in the kitchen and not look foolish, and walk around in my bare feet without raising eyebrows. (Let's face it, some of us think better if our feet aren't cooped up. A couple managers back, one of them caught me dashing to the printer - about 4 yards - in my stocking feet and asked where my shoes were. I told her they were under my desk where they belonged.)

And if I work from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., then 3 to 5, then break to cook dinner and eat and then come back and work from 7 p.m. to 9 - or 10 if I feel like it - there won't be anyone walking out the door at 6:30 or so, calling back over her shoulder, "Why are you still here? Time to go home!" I won't have to explain I'm still at it because I'm having fun, doing it right, and I'll leave when I get good and ready.

01 March 2010

Doing differently

The response to that last comment on my previous blog is, "Okay until..." I got a tad bit cranky when the nice young men minding the door of the KY Center for the Arts wouldn't let me cut through the lobby, even though it's the closest route to my car. And even though I always go that way. And even though I'm old and decrepit and could be their auntie, if not their grandma...

It was a private function, they said. Not that there haven't ever been private functions - but I've never before been stopped at the door and told to "walk around."

My first thought was to argue. I did protest, but I didn't argue. As I went (okay, hobbled - it was 6:15 p.m. and I'd been wearing heels all day) back down the steps out front and circled 'round the long way to the parking garage, I breathed deeply and said to myself over and over, "Face of God. Face of God..."

As I descended the stairwell to the ArtsCenter garage, which is the next shortest route to Riverfront garage where I park, I considered taking the elevator back up to the lobby level and ducking out the back door. I figured it would fit nicely into a "humorously passive-aggressive" kind of response.

Instead, I took the elevator to my level, went to my car, and headed home.

I figure sometimes the "face of God" has to just walk away. What's the point of getting the last word?

And the young men were nice. Their mamas taught them manners. Good for them!