This Is Not My Beautiful Life

This past Sunday was an almost perfect day.  Gray and damp, with that special push of wind that seems to scour your bones gloriously, enlighteningly clean as it passes by, passes through.  It was a little warmer than it should have been, the unseasonable mildness the only hint of the dis-ease that has riddled the weather this past year even more than those before.

The earth is shouldering its way into the death-sleep of winter, grumbling uncharitably to the too warm air.  Not that the air can help it, not really, the only sign it’s even aware of the unrest its disordered behavior causes a certain apologetic sadness in the rain it scatters heedlessly into earth too swollen or too parched to swallow it in.

And this is the way a year ends, stepping into the dark and laying down, sullen-unwilling and grateful-tired.  People, carried along with it, some fearful of the dark, looking forward to the clamoring holiday clangor of light’s last gasp; some few eager for the dim rest that winter affords.  Working on a personal photography project, I find myself wanting to stop the car, wherever it is I’m going, to take pictures of trees, aflame or enflamed with autumn’s descent into winter.  To capture the most beautiful colors, the ones nature offers only parsimoniously on such a grand scale, an eyeblink of the year before snatching them all away again, hoarding them for the flowerbeds of industrious gardners.

I never stop though, something about which I felt a vague sense of existential discomfort, that needling in the hindbrain signaling something that needs to be examined, teased apart and considered fully.  The trees, the colors, the cacophany that is fall in the northern midwest, it is one of those things that makes the world beautiful.  Beauty that helps to ease * some of the the economic and social discomfort that are the day to day realities of our state.

But it’s not what makes the world around me mine.  Beauty, to me, is sort of an aesthetic anasthetic.  My mind processes something as visually pleasing to a general ‘audience’ and then stops thinking about it, unless otherwise prompted.  As if beauty were not only objective, but an end in itself.   I won’t go into the whys and wherefores, but I will say that it is that acceptance of soialized beauty as a cognitive stopping point that is the source of a great deal of my own alienation.  I find the beauty that ‘everyone sees’ in things, and thus exclude myself from the world they inhabit.**

So this project has a two-pronged approach.  The first is that I (try to) take a self-portrait every day, unedited and largely unprepared for, and then make myself look at them until I can accept the photographic evidence of myself-as-object-in-the-world – because oh, yes, there is a decidedly philosophical bent to this.  The second is to take pictures of the world: not the world as ‘objectively’ beautiful, but as subjectively mine.

I will write more about this oddyssey as the whim arises, but my early stage evaluation is thus: it is an interesting journey that I’ve set myself on.  Interesting in the engaging sense, but also with a sense of nervousness, an awareness that I am uneasy about what I will find.  I know the whole of the journey will not be simply acheiving a sense of engagement-with-the-world, but then going forward with it.  That is what stirs a susurrus of dormant dread in the belly.  Rather appropriate for the witching season, eh?

*Not my state, but a very good piece.  You should go read it.

** If ony body dysmorphia were a rational thing, I might have conquered it already.

Wednesday What’s-es: October Squee

Listening to: Depends which way I’m driving, these days.  Mostly Pandora, really, until I get around to putting more music on my phone.  Usually it’s dance radio in the moring, to wake me up, and then John Denver/Paul Simon/Mumford and Sons type stuff on the way home, because it’s soothing.  

At home, the sound of traffic.  There is this odd quality to the sound of the cars out on Washtenaw when one sits in Cariad’s office – it makes all the cars sound like snowplows – rumbly-scrapy and ponderous – or lawnmowers on crack.  I think it’s nifty.

Eating: I made Chickpea of the Sea spreadlast night, substituting capers for the umeboshi vinegar.  The little spoonful I had was tasty- the substitution seems to be successful – the rest is for sammiches this week.  I am also working my way through the world’s most precious supply of honeycrisp apples – $6 for 3 pounds.  They didn’t have the $4 ones (Jonathan apples, which are not bad for the price but not my preference,) so at that point I was going to pay $5 for 3 lbs if I wated apples at all.  I figured it was worth the extra dollar for apples I actually like.

Drinking:  Not enough water.  I tried a bottle of Lime-Cucumber Gatorade (on the premise that I really like the lime flavor of their “Rain” flavors: it’s lime without the overwhelming acidity, and very tasty.)  This was not a successful experiment, judging by the heartburn.  Fake cucumber flavor is… not a positive use of culinary science.

Reading:  Plato’s Gorgias.  Rhetoric, its relation to politics, then on to a discussion about the goals of life.  That’s what the abstract says, anyway.  I’ll let you know what I think when I’m done, maybe.

Watching: Alphas.  Boy, oh, boy did I start watching this too soon.  Cariad and I are working our way through the first season, and quickly.  Soon I will be reduced to actually waiting for episodes.  Quelle horreur.  Really, though, this show is an actually quite awesome exploration of super-human abilities possessed by human beings.  The characters are multi-dimensional, and the powers they possess are explored in  excellent detail.  Which is not to say there isn’t a certain amount of handwavium, but it’s good.  Which means that it will no doubt be cancelled in the very near future.

Playing:  Dragon’s Dogma.  Jeff calls it the single-player MMO.  I can see why – certainly several of the ‘make-work’ quests are reminiscent of MMORPGs, but I rather like it.  This also marks the first time I have had the leeway to create a character who actually physically looks like me.  Which is interesting, and quite likely part of my attachment to what is otherwise, thus far, a pretty straightforward video game.

Wearing:  Skirts and dresses.  Hah, I say that as if I have multiples.  Which I do, so long as we are talking anything more than one – I have three skirts, one of which is about to be retired for winter (it’s lightweight, and pastel,) and two (work appropriate) dresses, one of which is quickly approaching ‘retirement to the pajama drawer’ status.  But, in an effort to reduce decision fatigue and save energy for things that actually matter, I’m trying to routinize the wardrobe.  If I only  own three pairs of pants that are suitable for work – and right now, I do – then I need to cover the lower half of me somehow.  So, skirty things it is.

Writing:  This stuff.  Trying to do it every weekday, with some experiments.  I make no promises.

Thinking: About how to do Thanksgiving.  Our presence has been requested in/invited to Dubuque, so there will be car renting.  I’ll likely try to leave work early on that Wednesday, drive out, and probably drive back on Sunday.  If schedules and budgets allow it, maybe that Monday, but we shall see.

Feeling:  Nervous to go back to school as a grad student in January.  It’s a little surreal, but it will be a welcome step forward.  I mean, holy crap, I’m going to grad school.  Online.  Doing school things.  Ack!  But on the other hand, whee!  When am I going to have time to do anything?  Oh, right, I don’t do all that much right now.  Well, that’ll take care of itself, now won’t it?

Wanting: UM med development to call back, which is looking rather unlikely att his point.  Which is sad, because I would really have liked to work there, but also because it means I have to back to actively job hunting, which is tedious and humbling.

Needing:  More time or more focus.  The latter would be better, the former would allow more sleep.  Adding concerta into my medication mix has helped, the rest is mostly a lot of scattered-ness that I have allowed to creep in.  Always problematic, because it’s so much harder to root it out than to guard against it.

Enjoying: Hazelnut coffee.  The receptionist ordered a box of it, mostly at my suggestion.  Coffee at work is now suddenly so much better…

And, the weather:  Yesterday was *gorgeous.*  Clear, blue and mild.  A break from the weather Ireally, really like, which is to say grey, colder, adn windy.  Love those fall days.  I could do with lower humidity on those days, to keep my knee from getting cranky, but I tae what I can get.

While Waiting

I am in waiting limbo, and I do not like it, Sam-I-Am.

I have deemed it unlikely that I will hear back from UofM about the most recent interview, which makes me sad, but I have waited, and now I would like tobe done with waiting.  So, another round of applying and job-hunting, because the rats-on-a-sinking-ship phenomenon has worked it’s way through the ‘meh’ people, and is starting in on the people I-really-like-and-who-make-coming-to-work-bearable.  To that end, I have joined LinkedIn.  I’ve even joined groups.  Sadly, I apparently missed a presentation at WCC called “The Reluctant Networker,’ which might have been helpful.  At least I could say that I went to a presentation named after me.

I have not yet heard from Wayne State, and while it is likely, though not entirely certain, that I will be accepted, I am waiting.  My official GRE scores were 166 Verbal, 158 Quantitative, and 5 written.  (For those who want to know, that’s 96th percentile, 74th, and 94th? maybe 92nd, can’t remember, respectively.)  The only thing that isn’t appearing on my app status page is my OCC transcript, which should have been sent ages ago, and I really don’t want to have to track it down.  I’m sort of hoping they decide it’s not vital pre-admission-decision but, theoretically, they will let me know.

Money is still stupid.  I am inching closer to balance, but it is a tricksy beast.  Hence why I would like UofM to quit lollygaging and hire me now, please.  I learned recently that compared to industry averages for my position, I am very nearly criminally underpaid.  Which I knew, kind of, but it’s nice to have back up.  The fact that I am doing the industry a disservice, however, makes me a little testy about it.  I really need to get better at negotiating for my own value.

Work is.  I am trying to work on new approaches and such, but the frustration is such that it’s hard to gain traction on project delineation, let alone execution.  I still have no VP, which on the one hand means little oversight, but on the other means little to no opportunity to define new working parameters or methods.  My Director has been agitating for me to receive training on our database, but I am reluctant to incur the cost given my intent to leave, especially since the database we use is not super-prevalent.  Instead I am going to work on my SQL skills, I think.  I have the book, now I just need to do the work.  Small things, you know.

I am unsurprised, though no less miffed, by the arrival of Cold.  My attempts to ignore it do not appear to be discouraging it any.  I may have to give in and start wearing at the very least my fleece, and definitely gloves.  Maybe see if I still have some toe-sock-fingerless-gloves I can wear at work.  Especially since I have the dog with me 3-4 days a week.  It’s gotten so even walking at lunchtime is a glove-requiring activity.

 

It’s Too Damn Early for Titles

If ONLY my coffee were this awesome. Now I want to go to Ugly Mug.

Not that it’s actually early.  It’s quarter after nine, actually, and I’m working my way through my morning coffee.  I just got up (all virtuous and stuff) at 5:15 this morning to go work out.  Which didn’t quite, erm, work out the way I’d intended, but I did get a good walk out of it.

Note to self: email the apartment manager about why the resident’s gym won’t open at 5:30 in the morning.  Maybe I need to bring it coffee.

This weekend was… a mixed bag, really.  Sunday was okay, nothing exciting.  Went to mom’s, did laundry.  Bought some groceries so that neither the cats nor the husband will starve.  I’ve almost gotten to the point with the laundry backlog that I’m doing laundry that we actually wear.  I think there’s one load of towels, and then I’m caught up to regular washing.  Hardly the stuff of legends, but considering how much laundry I’ve done in the past month, it sounds practically like heaven.

No, the big snafu was Saturday.  A very good friend of mine was having her pinning ceremony, after having finished nursing school.  I haven’t seen her in a while, and she is one of my very favorite people on the planet.  She was a big part of my wedding, and I only get to see her a few times a year, thanks to the price of gas.  Which I thought I had allowed for, but…  There was a snafu with our gas card, and we weren’t going to have enough to get out to the ceremony, down to the party, back again, and still do things like work.  Add to that the fact that we got held up in a disgustingly heinous traffic jam around Lansing which was going to make us late, and that Cariad started feeling kind of crappy once we hit Grand Ledge, and I made the call to turn around.

 Given that Cariad spent the first twenty minutes after we got home curled around the toilet bowl, it was absolutely the right call to have made.  But it still sucks, because this is an event in her life that I would have like to have participated in.  I know she had an amazing day, and I am unreservedly happy that she did.  I’m just bummed that I missed it.