I’m sitting here looking out at the millions of diamonds floating on the harbour and I’m filled with contentedness. I don’t know what that has to do with this post, but it seemed like a good way to start it. We’ve just finished our weekly brunch of frittata – this time with purple kale, asparagus and tomato and accompanied by couple of slices of nitrate-free bacon. I don’t know what that has to do with this post either, but it certainly reflects my rather limited perspective of the last month and a half. Cooking, was, I suppose, my way of coping; it felt productive and healthy and financially responsible. Back when I was a single mother going to university, I could stretch a grocery budget like nobody’s business.
One would think that when one is suddenly laid off from her job, she’d find all kinds of time to go to the gym, write a first draft of a novel, while away hours creating dolls and collaging and all the other things that stimulate her creative self. Most certainly she’d find time to blog. What really happened was she went into some sort of shock.
Not that it was a surprise. Most of my office had been laid off in the months before I was. My company’s industry had gone into a holding pattern and one by one, engineers began to go and then supporting staff. And then the business development group was dismantled too. One by one, ending with, I’ve heard, my boss, its director. I guess things are pretty bad when business development isn’t seen as useful anymore. It’s a giant company – our industry was a small part of it and they’d focus their pursuits in more profitable areas. Fortunately for me, my career isn’t centred on any one industry; I can write proposals for any kind of company and I have done so in a number of realms.
So the shock that wasn’t really a shock sent me into finding employment mode. I didn’t want to talk about it. I just wanted to find another job. And I did. Lucky me – proposal writers are needed everywhere these days. I started with a new company last week and the fit seems great.
But for five weeks my alarm clock was retired and I wore yoga pants every day and I revised my resume. And I tried new recipes. Food was comfort and my creative output. Likely it was a way to divert from the shock of the sudden retreat from the work world. North of that harbour I see from the vantage point of my sofa, the work world went on without me. Suits hopped off streetcars, blank faces filled the subway cars, couriers delivered packages and crews tore apart roads. I made soup.
Food might also have something to do with the other big change in the wind. After I was laid off, Ceri and I talked and it seemed like a good time to go forward with us and move in together. It occurred to me that I haven’t shared a home with a man in more than twenty years. But that’s not entirely true. Ceri and I have lived together, either at my place or his, every weekend for almost a year and a half. We have dinner together every Wednesday. It’s time. There is no need to be paying for two residences. Or be apart. Before Ceri I never knew a relationship could be so consistently pleasant and uncomplicated. Cooking for us and our family is an extension of our relationship.
I haven’t moved over to his place yet, that comes next month. We’re really excited about the challenge of merging stuff and making a home together. The Co-Habitation Project has given me new ideas about my blog space too, and I expect its documentation will be part of some needed change here.
In the meantime I am adjusting to the big changes. I love change – in many ways I have always lived for it. But as I discovered during the last time of major change in my life - when I sold my home and quit my job and took a big trip then relocated to another part of the province – big change causes system shock. But today as I look out at the diamonds floating on the lake and contemplate a different beautiful view out a different window, I feel grateful that the shock is giving way to living back in the world. And knowing that I have the capacity to keep putting one foot in front of the other, having trust in that the road that unfolds beneath them is the right one.
I get as much pleasure looking at the objects in my window when they're reflected by the morning light onto the curtain as I do looking at them when the curtain is open. It's kind of otherworldly-like; secret goings on in that other realm just beyond the reach of this one. Like when you're a little kid and you think all your toys come alive when you're sleeping, interacting in a toy community with toy concerns and toy traditions and toy conversations - all above the little non-magical world of mortals and thus never to be shared.
Often, when you look up at the CN Tower in the summer, you see those crazy orange people up there embarking on the EdgeWalk. For the record, that's about 1100 feet up. Let the record further state that the EdgeWalk is not in my bucket list.
Saturday, Ceri and I are at a local pub having a late afternoon beer and snack, and at the table next to us are three people having a conversation about work. We know this because the voice of the guy dominating the conversation gets louder and louder as his stories progress. He’s bitter. Apparently his employers are idiots and have created a horribly unhappy environment to work in. He talks about how he would manage the sorry people he is forced to work with, and tells tales of one in particular. He talks about how he would “fire her ass” and about how good he was at firing people when he was the boss. The conversation goes on and on and the guy gets louder and more incensed with every tale of the horribleness of his workplace. And as we get up to go home, all I can think about is how glad I am that I don’t have to work with that guy.
Later, just as we get home I shout, “wow, look at that!” It was this year’s “super moon” beginning to rise over the lake. We go out onto the balcony and start photographing it. It’s a giant luminescent ball of gorgeousness drifting there in the sky, causing ribbons of light to fall across the water. I recall overhearing a gal talking about last year’s super moon and saying “I was so disappointed.” I wondered, was she expecting it to sing and dance too? Looking at it this year I can’t imagine how anyone could find it disappointing.
As we’re watching the moon float higher and higher, lighting the cruise boats sailing beneath it, we notice two young guys in the parking garage next to my building taking pictures in the opposite direction with a fancy camera with a long lens. We’re not sure what they’re shooting, but we can’t believe it could be more interesting than that moon creating such drama over that lake.
They see Ceri and I and our cameras on the balcony gazing southward, and look as if they’re wondering aloud what we’re taking pictures of. Ceri points in the direction of the moon, but they just stand there. Eventually they walk over near the south facing wall and look in the general direction where Ceri was pointing, but the wall would have blocked their view of the moon.
A few minutes later we see them walk out into the street, right under that magnificent orb, oblivious to its show.
It never disappoints me. For that reason, it's beautiful thing number ninety.
Today, waiting to hook up with some friends, I'm sitting near some guys having an engaged and lively conversation. Mostly the conversation isn't much interesting; it drifts in and out of my consciousness as I abandon passages from my book to watch for my friends. I catch a bit about Microsoft's monopoly (which, they were all agreeing, is as it should be); the virtue of the electronic tablet/phone, and how to use LinkedIn to rise up in the IT world.
Then I catch something about the shaping of western society that seeks to trap us like a mice in a maze, caught in the web of commerce via mortgage, cars and children. When we get all those things – the house, the children, the cars, we're falling in line with the plan. The guy leading that bit says, with pride, he has no house, no car and no kids, therefore he is free, unlike most of us suckers. "Hooray for you" I think as I see my friends walk into the coffee shop.
Then I'm hearing him say that art was supported by the leaders of captialism as an opiate, to cause us all to follow willingly into that trap. "It was all part of the plan," he says. "Art keeps us complacent and stops us from thinking for ourselves."
I'm perplexed, wondering if he's saying working in an office at a computer is a more honourable calling than making art. More siginificantly, could one really believe that art makes us not think? That goes against every grain of my understanding.
But then as I greet my friends, I hear the words "opera" and "pop stars" and "sports heros" in the sentence supporting the art=opiate assertion, and then I understand: that guy's experience with "art" is nothing like mine.
Later as I'm walking home I'm thinking it's really sad, how it must be to not know art as something that makes you look beyond the standard, something that challenges your thinking, that causes you to look below the surface at the many layers of things (including yourself).
And I'm feeling lucky that art is all of that for me. So lucky that I'll call it beautiful thing number 88.
I’m flying. I’m landing. Skittering along; halting to find I’m the wrong way around.
I’m floating. Above life looking down. I’m on the edge, a precipice with one foot hanging over, saying it’s going to go. Inviting, welcoming the rest of me to come along. Fall or fly? Still, I saw at the chains that hold me there.
I’m waiting. Waiting and moving. Moving around on the set of another play. Other characters are giving me cues but these are not my lines and I fumble them and the audience is not amused.
I’m watching. The clock. An extra hour we’ve been given this week but in the middle of the night as I’m rehearsing the lines it’s a long, heavy hour mocking me there.
I’m heavy. Heavy, floating, slow across the stage. Waiting for sleep but that damn clock mocks.
…to this story.
As I walk out of my office for a walk at lunchtime yesterday, I very nearly crash into the very man walking by the front of my office building. He looks out of place on Bay Street at lunchtime amidst the suits and and cell phones and smart pumps. I have to stop myself from staring. The strangers in danger of bumping into me suddenly rooted there wouldn't know or care why I'm compelled to watch that man cross the street.
I turn back to find him and he's gone. I think to myself that I do so love a coincidence. This one: beautiful thing number 48.