Month: March 2012

Counting One’s Blessings

“At least you have your health!” — often said when one is disparaging one’s fate, usually accompanied by the statement one should count one’s blessings.

My health took a brief holiday on Tuesday night, having (correctly) assessed everything else was going very well so it may as well take its turn. It started with the usual sore throat — and then, as my son puts it, you feel like you swallowed sand. Then you get the fever. And then a wet cough that punctuates every third word.

Three days later you’re still pretty much there. There was one brief respite where the fever had broken and I felt better, I now feel like that was likely the result of DayQuil and not actual healing. Now it appears the fever has broken (again) and I’m hopeful, as this time I can talk more before the racking cough, and the joint pain is subsiding.

One of the most frustrating things about being sick is that you take time off of work (if you can, and you should if you can) so you can heal up. As a result, you look at this startlingly clear calendar, this wide-open schedule, and fantasize about all the things you could do! You could — garden! You could sew, you could catch up on those books, you can reconfigure your pantry, you can …

…oh, no you can’t. Because you’re sick. So while your BRAIN is perfectly capable of envisaging these things, and of planning and plotting and wanting to go do them, your BODY is calling you four-letter words, aching at every joint, and requiring obscene amounts of sleep. In the space of 24 hours I used up an entire box of kleenex (plus five individual packs); in the space of the last 4 days I exhausted the remaining supply of tea and honey. I’ve lost four pounds (silver linings, anyone?) I am both BEHIND and AHEAD at work because I’ve done everything I can that didn’t require me to talk — because I couldn’t — but now I need to make up all that talking time with a voice that sounds like I’ve been sucking on helium and pickles.

This is okay thought. Because it appears I can once again count my health.

Challenge

There’s one of those uplifting sayings they put at the bottom of posters with kittens climbing trees or something, that says “Do Something That Scares You Every Day”. I think this is a bit extreme, I’m all for the good weekly or monthly scare. But essentially, this coupled with Nietzsche’s “That Which Does Not Kill Me Makes Me Stronger” means essentially this: challenge, and your life will be richer thereby.

Challenge is scary. Challenge, by definition, is something that you have to extend yourself to meet, and the outcome is uncertain. Challenge can take many forms.

Maybe it’s a defiance to the status quo. Maybe it’s asking “why” in a culture that discourages it. Maybe it’s rocking the boat. Maybe it’s flying in the face of that which is expected of you. Challenge is scary to you, and to others, because challenge is change.

And people really don’t like change (usually).

And change does not have to be a bad thing.

There was a time when bathing was an annual event because in doing so you’d “catch your death of cold)(nevermind that by not bathing you were almost assured to get that death anyway). There was a time when your life, your path was determined from the time you were born and no manner of training or gumption could change your circumstance. There was a time when the world was flat, when the sun revolved around the earth, and when women and persons of color could not vote.

Sometimes it’s scary. And sometimes it won’t change the course of humanity, of governments, of cities, or even your whole life — maybe just the course of your day.

Lucille Ball once said she’d rather suck her gums by the fire in her old age regretting the things that she did, than the things that she didn’t. We should too.

I Find This Lack of Internets Disturbing

[Editor’s note: written in Word while on the last leg of 3 legs to London. I was a bit ranty…]

Well, United Airlines (now with Continental!) is spending slightly over one half of one billion (yes, B, not M) dollars on improving its airline interiors, including seat upgrades and satellite Wi-Fi.

This really can’t happen soon enough.

For the business traveler, especially one going from Seattle to Europe, a transatlantic flight represents a minimum of 9 hours where if you SLEEP you’re SCREWED when it comes to jet lag; the best thing to do is tough it out and slog through it. Except if there’s no Wi-Fi, there’s only so much you can do.

For example, I just “kicked off” seven emails. These emails will sit, rotting in my outbox, until I get into my room, acquire Wi-Fi, and they get sent out. By then they will be about 7 hours old. Instead of receiving 7 hours worth of action on them (oh, who am I kidding, but call it 7 MINUTES, fine) I will have zippo on them in the ensuing time. The brain is full of ideas but they have no external avenue!

Likewise I can’t do non-work things that I have in place to keep me non-work busy. Planning the training rides for the STP? Already done for me, but I can’t send emails to discuss/’negotiate” the rides because no internets. I can’t get quotes for balloons for the science fair because no internets.  I can’t get the STOCK MARKET quotes because of no internets, and this is a sad thing.

Am I addicted? Possibly. Have I built a life around me that requires this tethering? I’ll buy that. But the technology exists, it’s not even that EXPENSIVE, we just don’t seem to have it in the places we really need it.

Silver Linings

The last 24 hours have unquestionably been a series of Silver Linings.  (Note: I’m on a plane – leg 3 of a 3 leg sojourn to Heathrow – so I finally get to blog).

My day started on Monday, March 5th at about 4:30am. That’s when the eyeballs snapped open and steadfastly refused to close. Not being able to sleep is, I think we can all agree, a bad thing; but if it happens on a Monday morning you can at least attend to the deluge of email that Europe’s and Asia’s Monday morning delivered. Silver lining number one, then: clean(ish) email inbox before I hit the office.

I got the boy to school to discover he was the recipient of a C-slip on Friday afternoon but due to the last-minute nature of it the C-slip would not be sent home until Monday (a C-slip is a “Communication slip” – if you have inferred the communication is rarely positive you are correct. Typically C-slips are to indicate behaviors the school would like to stop, now, please. For example: chasing one’s classmate with a pencil). I spent the day agonizing that I had let the boy child have TV on Sunday night because I didn’t know of the infraction, only to discover (when I finally had a chance to talk to him) that he had already ‘fessed up at his father’s house and punishment had been delivered. Silver lining number two: he didn’t attempt to hide it and instead demonstrated true remorse and honesty.

At the point I entered the office I was 3 conference calls in, with no coffee; I stepped into the office of a colleague to discover she was leaving the company (she is a wonderful asset to the company and she’s been around for years and years). She is doing this to spend more time with her family – not because of any real dissatisfaction. Fair enough: silver lining number three – she made the right choice for herself and there is no argument with Family First.

The workday was about on-par for a Monday (which is saying both a lot and very little),  and I went to retrieve the boy child so we could go hang up Science Fair posters at the school. I thought this would take a long time, but it turns out the opportunity to spend time with him NOT doing homework or study or projects was incredibly welcome, and he took great pride in his taping skills. Plus, we finished early (and hello Silver lining number four).

We got to karate where he has steadfastly opined that he dislikes all Sempais and only wishes to train with the Sensei. Sensei is travelling back home so we had a Sempai: Silver lining number five was that my son has now declared that “THAT Sempai is okay. I like him.”

Dinner cooked mercifully in short time, I actually got to spend time with my son before I left (technically after his bed time). I rolled into SeaTac feeling especially reticent to fly and discovered that my flight was delayed 3 hours, meaning I would MISS my connecting flight at Dulles. I was rebooked to a flight that left at the same time for O’Hare, which would then meet up with a second flight for Dulles, to catch my third to Heathrow. At this point, all restaurants (even the Starbucks and the bars) at the airports are closed, and I have just enough time to get through security (where I got the complete feel-up even though I went through the perv machine) and catch my new flight.

I know what you’re thinking…. Where’s the silver lining there?

It’s here: my flight to Chicago was practically empty and I didn’t share a seat with anyone; I could stretch out and sleep.

My flight to Dulles was also practically empty and I could stretch out (across 3 seats!) and sleep.

And I type this now from my flight to Heathrow. Incidentally it’s the same flight the Seattle folks were trying to make and wouldn’t have; as a result I have changed my window seat for a middle/middle… with no one on either side of me. I have three seats to sleep in, work at, eat at, and I can watch 3 different TV programs if I was so inclined (I am not, however).

There are a lot of things of late that have me deliberately looking for silver linings: continued adventures in civil court, an overactive volunteering gland resulting in a very intricate Outlook calendar, the increasing realization that time moves much more quickly than it did when I was younger and there’s a definite crest to this hill.  I am very glad, then, that I can still find them.