three things


This has been a strange week. A fast week that seemed slow. A routine week that was not.

I had Monday off. I had big plans to clear out my cave, which I did only to a small degree. It’s this odd space, carved out of the bedroom. It was either a walk in closet at one point, or simply part of the bedroom, and it was walled off. There’s a doorway with no door, and you can only get to it through my bedroom. No windows, hence “The Cave”. It’s a frustrating space, becomes the destination for all the flotsam I haven’t sorted through. I’ve lived here four years, and I want to finish this space off, so it’s organized, instead of jumbled.

Big plans in that regard last weekend, but all I really did was take the empty boxes out to be recycled.

Then there was the weather – finally we had seasonal temperatures! It felt like spring, we even had a day that hit 50 degrees! Today, and this weekend, completely different story.

Work was boring, right up until the last couple hours today. Finally finally finally I have some consistent work to pass the time. It’s not that interesting on the surface – refactoring existing code to switch from a proprietary framework to an open source commonly used framework. But it’s work, and it’s work I find mostly satisfying, and it’s always good for learning.

Jake is a character, has dominated our shared 700 square feet pretty much from the moment I brought him home. He is such a goofball, but an extremely agile, athletic, curious one, he’s constantly exploring every nook and cranny (and the higher the better), so he gets into things, and I take pictures. So when I say he has dominated, I think I really mean he’s dominated my camera and my facebook stream. I often feel that in the real day-to-day workings of my life with my three cats, that I end up focusing on the other two almost to the exclusion of Jake…except of course when he’s getting into stuff. Which, when he is awake, is a lot.

But anyway, some of my favorite pictures of him are of him sleeping. All of his fans on the internet love, of course, when he’s doing something risky. Playing with his tail on top of the closet door. Climbing into a cabinet full of glassware. Hanging out in the dishwasher. He’s a challenge.

The other day I posted one of my favorite pictures of him, and got no feedback. This doesn’t bother me, I mention it only because I find it interesting. He’s sleeping in the picture, and what I love about it is the light. It’s sort of delicate and stark all at the same time. It’s a simple picture, yet there are lots of details. There’s not much of a mystery to it, but it’s one I like to go back and look at again and again, which is one of the criteria of a successful picture, for me. Maybe no one else feels that way about the picture – that’s okay, I take them for myself.

Maybe no one else feels that way about the picture because they don’t realize how precious those sleeping moments are for someone living with a troublemaker like Jake! Jake is not especially affectionate. He doesn’t want to be held, though if I hold him in a specific position, he’ll tolerate it for short periods of time. I have trained him, in a way, to rub up against my leg when he wants something, as opposed to going in the kitchen and breaking something. He sleeps curled up between my legs about half the time, otherwise he’s in the living room.

What am I saying? He’s easier to love in pictures, I think, than in reality. He gets into so much trouble! He’s endearing, but manipulative, and our interactions are very often me trying to stop him from doing something. When he’s sleeping, everything is softer, and I can feel all of the love for him that I really do have, but which is usually masked by the immediacy of trying to keep him from “helping” bake cookies, or eat my dinner or break this or that, or get into this or that…

So, all that to say, here’s one of my favorite pictures of Jake:

Now, the 3 things:
1. Having some warmish weather this week was so nice! I’d forgotten how nice that felt.
2. I got my brakes fixed up on the beater bike, the old mountain bike turned alternate commuter that I stuck the studded tires on, and so on Tuesday when we had some sketchy weather (sleet mostly), I was able to ride the studded tire bike and it felt incredibly freeing. Bikes expand my horizons, pure and simple, and something about it being on my own steam makes it mean something…turning the key in the ignition of a car never had that feeling, at least not for me.
3. I really love that picture of Jake!

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I tend to hunker down at my desk when I’m at work, getting up only for necessities. There are about 100 people who work in my building, and I probably know only 20 by name. This becomes disconcerting when I realize that many more people than that know me by name. Even most of the people who don’t know me by my given name know me by my other name: The Biker.

I met one of these people in the break room today as I got hot water for my tea. “You bike all winter long!” was his conversation starter. He was amazed that I rode 13.5 miles each way. We talked for a few minutes about the biking and joked about his initial assumption that I get on the Beltway to bike commute (this is a more common belief than you might imagine).

I have no idea who he is. I didn’t even know he worked in the building!

Being The Biker is a great ice-breaker, it’s just not great for learning people’s names!

My three things:
1. Being very pleasantly surprised by the comments on yesterday’s post! To think I didn’t expect anyone to read it!
2. When I arrived at the stream today, the sun was this giant ball of fire. In the past, this frustrated me from a photographic standpoint, today it thrilled me. It looked warm, even though it was still only 26 degrees. I needed that ball of fire, it was food for the soul!
3. I realized while at work that Monday is a holiday. For some reason it wasn’t registering that this weekend is a 3 day weekend. So happy to realize!

I’m taking a class these days. Most Good, Least Harm. It’s been interesting so far. It’s a lot about introspection, reflection, aligning behavior with belief. Right up my ally, and in many ways it becomes challenging because I’ve already thought about so much of what is brought up, I’ve already made so many changes.

When you’re someone who uses cloth handkerchiefs and cloth napkins and cloth everything except toilet paper, it’s hard when you look at your trash for the day to find things you can realistically reduce.

Okay, clif bars, I’m guilty. I will look for a solution/replacement and give up my reliance on clif bars!

Today we talked about joy. I’d had so much joy in the morning – getting out onto icy streets on the bike might not sound like a recipe for joy, but add the studs I was trying out for the first time on the “new” beater I was riding for the first time, and it was pure joy. Horizons expanding, the world at my feet kind of joy.

Work was frustrating though. I even switched to tea, because coffee makes me more irritable, but man…I was irritated all day long today. And then the ride home felt so hard.

It was windy. It happens. And the studs add considerable resistance, only worth riding when the roads are sketchy, and they’d pretty much dried up between this morning and this afternoon, so it was more work for little benefit. But still, the extra work seemed more extra than it should be.

And I found out why when I got home. One of the rear brake pads was flush against the rim of the tire. I don’t know why, it was adjusted just fine this morning. I tried to adjust it after I got home, but it didn’t seem to be working so well. Frustrating. But exhaustion explained!

Still, there was the lingering frustration. And then I sat down to recount my joy-filled-moments for this class, and … magic! I felt the joy all over again! My mood was brightened, I felt free of those frustrations.

I was reminded of the three positive things I used to record on this blog. And in going back to find where that started, I realized something. I kind of like this blog! Maybe I’ll start blogging here again, the random collection of jumbled life experiences…

If nothing else, it’s a place to share my three things:
1. Studded tires on icy roads
2. Vertical slash of sunrise-colored sunlight at the stream
3. Refinding joy by remembering and describing it

I love my cat, I do I do. And sometimes I feel so guilty. I’ll be busy on the computer and she’ll be moving around my piles of paper that inevitably surround it, and she’ll walk in front of me, and so often it just irritates me. And then I realize, all she wants is some attention. I’m at work so much of the time, and then I come home, and I have chores to do and tasks to accomplish, and I’m focused on that. On me.

She’s not neglected. She’s spoiled in many ways. But I don’t always pay enough attention, and she’s just one example of that.

A day or two ago I was rushing around in the morning, as I normally do, going through my routine. I was about to walk out the door when I looked back and I saw Tempest sitting in the middle of the living room, waiting. It is our ritual that I give her three treats, hiding them in various places. I hadn’t given them to her yet and I had almost forgotten.

She’d have survived, it isn’t about that. It is about being so busy, caught up in the routines the clocks the things we have to get done. It hurt me that I hardly noticed her that morning, that I sometimes brush aside her desire for attention in the evenings. I think back at the furry friends I’ve lost in the past, and at how I’d have given anything for just one more day to spend with them. Would still. And here I am wasting the days and mornings I do have with my current love, who is alive and well, and within reach.

It makes no sense, yet it is so typical of our lives. Well, of mine, anyway. I won’t speak for anyone else.

tempest

Day 30 of NaBloPoMo. I made it.

Three things for Thursday:

  1. Got pet insurance for the Tempest.
  2. Got plane tickets to FL in Jan! Yippee! Is it Jan yet?
  3. Worked on the resume.

Okay, I’m making it public – I have set a goal to exercise every day in December. This is part of my overall goal of taking better care of myself, and it fits in with the advice I’m taking of Leo’s from Zen Habits/Zen To Done, who says to add just one or two new habits every month.

I’ve decided that I will tackle one organizational habit and one health habit every month. Hence the exercise goal for December. I’ve been working on drinking more water and getting more sleep for a couple months now, and I am doing well with them. I could do better – I slack off on the water intake on the weekends, as well as the fruit consumption, and I also add in weekend lattes, so overall I’m dehydrating myself on the weekends! I was better last weekend – that was a conscious effort!

The thing about exercise, I enjoy it, I just have gotten out of the habit, so it isn’t something I dread. And with the days getting shorter, endorphins become important for mood stabilizers. A new yoga studio opened up near me recently – even closer than my favorite Thai restaurant! Which means it is in walking distance, which is a dream come true. Hopefully I’ll like the teachers!

Exercising every day might sound like a goal that is quite ambitious, but I’m defining “exercise” to be “at least 10 minutes of movement.” So the point of the goal, while helpful in getting in shape, is really about forming the habit, not about becoming buff in just one month.

squiggley path at ps

I find myself looking at the path that the horses, mules, and cows have worn in their field. It is sort of hard to tell in the size I can display in this blog, so check this out for a bigger version. I’m sure there are all kinds of physical landscape type reasons for the random squiggling in their path, but from a distance it looks like they have a fairly straight path from barn to woods, all except that one area of squiggling, whose purpose I can’t see. I’ll walk that path some day. It is always the squiggles that makes me think!

Three things for Tuesday:

  1. More work done on The Cave, and visible progress is being made.
  2. It felt good to set some goals for December, and to line up a goal-buddy to keep me on track!
  3. Chocolate chai rice dream!

I don’t get sick days at my current job, which is annoying, but I do get other schedule perks of a sort, so it isn’t all bad. Calling in sick isn’t really a non-option, it is just that I have to either make up the time or take vacation if I do call in sick. So it isn’t something I do unless absolutely necessary.

Luckily I don’t get sick often, so this hasn’t been an issue.

But calling in sick makes me think of Utah Phillips and a song/story he has about calling in well. This also reminds me of Buddy Wakefield talking about how we need to learn to live for a living. These things stick in my mind. I usually feel that my weeks are things I get through to get to the all-too-short weekends. I spend Sundays (or whatever day before going back to work) feeling a sort of blues, a state of dread, because I really dislike my job. I think I’d like the overall career if I had a job with a better overall situation.

Yes, this is within my control to change.

And yes, I think right now I’m a bit tired of change. And yes, this is my fault.

These are the cards I’m playing right now though. I am so drawn to the idea of calling in well, and going off to live for a living. Isn’t that what we all want to do? I know that before society was this thing that it is today, people didn’t have more options, they had less. Survival was the top priority, and when survival is difficult there isn’t room for things like following dreams and finding yourself and taking chances.

But survival isn’t hard for me in this society, at least not with my current job. Maybe it would be harder if I was following my dream. Certainly I wouldn’t be able to afford the mortgage I have right now. That’s my biggest expense, so superficially that seems easy enough to change. Though I’d have to move from this area altogether, ’cause it ain’t cheap here.

Still, there is something to be said for simplification, eliminating extraneous expenses so that we can afford to have the jobs we like, and live for a living, as opposed to chasing a paycheck that twists things inside of us to achieve. I’ve been on the other side, I’ve lived on $8 of food per week, because that was all I could afford at the time. I’ve charted out errands so that I conserved gas, not because of environmental issues, but because even back then when gas was often hovering around $1/gallon, I could hardly afford my weekly gas bills and couldn’t afford to be wasteful of even a quarter of a gallon. I’ve lived that. It isn’t fun, and it doesn’t leave room for anything, and it is filled with worry and what-ifs.

I don’t want to go back to that. It seems like there should be something between that and where I’m at right now, something a bit more like the enjoyment my parents have in their busy retirement life instead of the unfulfilling working life I have right now.

Do we put our dreams on hold until after retirement (and hope our health holds out long enough for us to enjoy ourselves, but not so long we run out of retirement funds?) or do we find a way to live them now?

Well, I know what answer I want, but I’m stumped on how to achieve it.

norman sunbathing at ps

Three things for Saturday:

  1. A great day, overall – sanctuary, home depot, the bookcase assembly, the fake salmon that was a lot less disturbing than it looked…
  2. Talking about music…
  3. Finding Sheese at Mom’s (both the spreadable and the block) and having a Sheese taste test with Cheesely (Sheese wins!), and being reminded that Mom’s kicks major ass.

Three things for Sunday:

  1. Leftover thanksgiving food.
  2. Not getting lost dropping off Rich in Chinatown and not getting lost finding my way back to NY Ave afterwards. (It was easy, but that doesn’t mean I won’t get lost!)
  3. Curling up with Tempest reading.

When Rich said he wanted to come down for thanksgiving, that was cool on its own, but I looked forward to it for another reason as well – I had two things I wanted to get from Ikea that were too heavy for me to carry into my condo on my own.

I hate that! But what can you do? Bribe a friend to come help carry stuff, of course!

So today was Ikea day. The first one we went to was out of stock of both things I wanted to get! What are the chances? Well, this is why I often go without key pieces of furniture. I easily decide it is less of a hassle to have no bookcase than going to a store a second time or going to a different store. Rich isn’t as quick to give up. We had the (extremely and cheerfully helpful) Ikea information person look up the stock at a couple of the other stores, and we ended up going to Baltimore. Luckily both of the things I wanted were there, and we were in and out of that store (no wait in line to pay, either, which never happens!) in about 10 minutes. Amazing!

So it was the day of Ikea. And then some good food – first there was falafel, and then there was a stickybun at DC’s vegan bakery, and then for dinner we went to this bookstore/restaurant that has vegan pizza with vegan cheese, and they also had this really excellent tandoori vegan burger. As is typical for Rich and I when we go out to eat, we order two dishes and split them so that we can try two different things. The burger was fantastic, different, interesting, and well done. The pizza was okay. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t fantastic the way the burger was. I hadn’t even realized that that particular restaurant was there until tonight, so if nothing else, it was an excellent find, and it is only about five minutes away. I’m sure I’ll be back!

The pictures are from diner last night. Neither are fantastic, but good enough I suppose. The fake turkey, from a vegetarian fake meat place in chinatown, nyc, was sort of freaky. I mean, check out that texture! Tastes really good though.

fake turkey

And then a plate of food, pretty much everything we had on the thanksgiving menu. (Notice the mashed potatoes, with blue potatoes! They weren’t purple-blue, the way I’ve heard some blue potatoes are, but they were very interesting, and they were local and organic!)

plate of vegan food at thanksgiving

Three things for Friday:

  1. I really like the hall thing I got at Ikea! And Rich helped me figure out the placement, and then secured it to the wall as well. Some things are just so much easier to decide with feedback.
  2. I was looking through the VegDC guide tonight, and realized that there’s an Ethiopian place listed that I’ve driven by and wondered at many many times, and which is about 3 minutes from my place. So nice to know that it has good vegan options. And….vegan baklava! I’m so going to overload on sugar by getting a piece of baklava sometime!
  3. A letter from Jesse!

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