Monday, May 14, 2012

The Answer Key

(This relates to the test.)

Here was the decision: be convenient to everyone around me? Or be...there's really no other way to put this... ornery? To simply state my terms and then not concede ground, not sit down at the negotiating table and open a dialog. I've never done anything like that before. It's so easy to say "yes" to people that we forget how hard it can be to say "no". And it's even harder to say "no" when you're asked a second time, or a third. But here's what I learned: stand your ground. Maybe it's true, maybe this was a test from the universe. Regardless, I'm pretty sure that the way I live now will be the way I'll be living in 10 years, so it had better be in a good way. I don't mean the logistics of life. I mean priorities, values, and goals. The deep stuff. Whatever problems I'm facing now will probably be something I struggle with down the road. Isn't this just par for the course? Weight, self-esteem, poor health, money, whatever the problem is, it follows people throughout their lives. It's rare to escape, to make a clean getaway, but it's what we all fantasize of doing.

What am I talking about?

Work. Of course. Just re-read the other entry. I always end up overloaded, committing to so many things that my inner self gets buried and eventually I burn out and start over again. This time I'm trying to make a sustainable relationship with work. After a loooong period of negotiations (one of my weak points) I think I ended up with what I wanted!!! There was so much negotiating involved that it feels like I just bought a car after hours of back and forth, not agreed on a work schedule.

I'm 29 now. Is that old? Or young? I don't know. But I know this: people will always want more from you- the secret is to keep something back for yourself. Emotional bankruptcy is an ugly thing.

There was one casualty- spring. Before I knew it spring was over. That's an actual physical ache, a mistake maybe, a regret. Of course I don't regret where that decision has taken me - a long time ago I decided to never regret consequences- but I mourn its passing. Summer is all around us now. Summer is good, long enough to enjoy, while spring is so short that it must be consciously observed to be enjoyed. I missed that opportunity this year (or rather, enjoyed behind the windows of a classroom, ha) but that turned out to be a powerful lesson.

We had a beautiful long week. Time stretched out and slowed itself down because the clock in the kitchen had broken. Instead of replacing the batteries, we left it this way. It had stopped at 9:35 so every time I looked up at it I thought "ah, it's still early." 9:35 is a great time: if it's morning, the day is still new. If it's evening, it's not yet too late. I felt eternal all week, protected from the passage of time. It was like a surprise blessing from some small guardian домовёнок. 

One afternoon we heard a giant roar from the sky. Giant raindrops suddenly hurled themselves fiercely to the earth like an army of airborne invaders, like rounds of ammo shot down from the sky. The drops of water were so fat and hard that they stung you if you caught one on your skin while leaning out the window. Then the rain turned to heavy hail. I'd only seen weather like this once, just before a tornado touched down in Washington State. So D and I did what any sane adults would do: we wiggled into our swimsuits and went outside! There were a couple people standing around, huddled under ledges, watching the weather in amazement. We quickly moved past them and found ourselves wading through warm ankle-deep water in the street. We agreed to make one lap together around the surrounding buildings and set off running. That's why we were out in the open when the big guns opened fire. There was a large splash, the kind you usually see when a fish jumps. Then another loud splash to the side. And then bam! just as my mind had started to make the connection, giant fragments of hail were plummeting down from the sky. We made it back but not without getting a few bumps on the head. That was a memorable afternoon! 

Another fun moment with D came when, during a programming project, he was asked to upload a picture of him and a towel. No, not that kind of photo, naughty readers :p We thought long and hard about how to make a creative photo. We ended up among the murals at Youth Park. I channeled all those hours spent watching America's Next Top Model and directed D as he leaped about in front of the murals with a skinny green travel towel. Turns out it is really hard to throw a towel into the air, jump up, and have a normal-looking expression on your face. Especially when little kids in the background are staring at you in shock. We had a good laugh looking at those photos.

But now? Now the vacation is over now. Classes are beginning again, probably full of old and new faces and personality quirks. Maybe this will be a great semester.


  1. loved this blog post, especially the part about "emotional bankruptcy!" that's such a good way to put it, and I struggle with keeping time/space separate just for me and not getting overloaded with commitments/projects. thanks for sharing your thoughts :)