I leave the house so early anymore that I don’t have time to do my morning computer routine. I can comfortably sit here in the tapestried chair across from the wood stove with my computer on my lap for 4 hours. I only need to get up to add wood to the fire, refill my cup with Peets, or go to the bathroom because of the Peets.

I’ve got four email accounts and eight websites upon which I update my personal life, as well as keep track of my virtual community (most of which are reflected in real life by actual friends and family whom I love). That’s how the time can go by so quickly when I’m online.

The second week of work has wound down, and I realize I’ve barely put myself out there in that time. I’ve read a lot of emails, and smiled at them, and left them in my inbox to get to later. I’ve even jetted off a couple of quick responses. I see that I will need to adjust my routine again now that I have a job that always uses up my morning.

And I can’t do it at night. Yes, I’ve received endless years of harassment by well-meaning friends who truly can’t believe that I really am tired so early in the evening. Regardless, I remain incorrigibly a very early morning person. My peak performance of a given 24-hour period is 3:00am-10:am. (I know this because I worked so many overnight shifts.) Midday I’m ok. I can comfortably work through lunch, and I don’t really notice the early afternoon sluggishness that sets in for many people after a good lunch. However, around 5pm, my brain goes fuzzy. While my mood stays up and I’m happy to go do things, by this time I’ve lost the ability to be philosophical or complicated. By 7pm, I really have lost completely all valuable functionality. I try to get to bed soon after 8, and if I’m not in bed by 9, I have just ruined the next day because of lack of sleep.

It’s Saturday, I am now fortunate enough in my life to have been blessed with a job that is mon-fri and has weekends and nights off. It’s 6:30 in the morning (I slept in to celebrate the weekend!), and my computer is on my lap.

Here are all the things I should have been talking about the last two weeks, but have found my life flying by too quickly to stop and share it:

The trees! Oh, my they are beautiful in Portland right now. Someone actually commented at work that since I came from Massachusetts, the Fall colours would disappoint me, but it hasn’t been the case. The hills, I admit, are duller than New England, but right up close in the city, the bronze, vermilion, gold, fire orange and lemon yellows are blowing me away this week. I am so tempted to take my camera and snap some of them, already past their prime now, but so beautiful.

At my morning bus stop is the most remarkable view through trees and past an industrial building, of four layers of overpasses soaring across the horizon. On a rare clear morning, I saw the sky turn velvet orange-pink just before it began to light up, and so the overpasses were silhouetted in front of the dawn. I find geometric shapes beautiful (partly why I admire Turkish traditional design in architecture), and I also love curves. These lofty highways are black ribbons in the morning, topped with sparkling lights – some brilliant white, some red from taillights – all moving in their quests of employment like me.

Across from work is a park three blocks long. Directly across from my building, in the park, is a pond with cattails and bubbling water and water-shaped stones from Portland’s sister city, Suzhou, China. Yesterday I sat there in the first sun at lunchtime in a long time, and laughed while three boys ran around the pond – jumping over my legs because I was on the banks. What gushing enthusiasm they have. What would it be like to parent a boy?

In less than two minutes, I watched a whole series of trying parenting moments. The middle boy attempt to step out to a rock in the middle, and fell in. The oldest boy and the youngest had climbed around the back up onto a large rock and the oldest had the little one by the neck of his shirt and was dangling him over the water. As the little one squealed, Mom hollered, and the older one said “I’m just helping him get around me so he can get down!” The big one ran down the hill to Mom and said, “Can we leave now?” The middle one, who had already left the pond and was heading down the hill, immediately shouted “No! We just got here!” and ran back up to the pond to pretend he was interested in it. The little one was on the bank on his knees, with arms so deep into the pond his nose almost touched the water, came up with a beautiful river-polished stone and with an expert cast belying his youthful appearance, the stone flew up, up, and right through a hole in the Suzhou rock. The small stone bounced down inside and splashed into the pond. The boy’s face showed pure delight. “Oh!” he said. “Com’ere! Com’ere! Lookit this!” And to my surprise, that small arm expertly threw another stone through the same hole.

My head was spinning from all that activity, and it made me grin.

My co-workers truly care about each other. They truly care. It was not like that in the National Weather Service for the most part. Most of the NWS forecasters are snot-nosed hoodlums right out of college and four years out of Mom-and-Dad’s place – filled with an assuredness and a self-absorption that is common and beautiful among young people. …Just… not beautiful when it’s your co-worker…and they’re 12 years younger than you, making more money than you, with a more impressive titles and gaining more respect and responsibility because of the titles. Those people go on to quickly become managers, and never get the chance to learn how to care about each other, or the people working hard to make their offices run smoothly.

The people I have spent the last two weeks with are mostly in their 40s and 50s. A large portion of them are in their 60s. They have families, grandchildren, divorces, deaths, births,  unemployment, and military service behind them. Nearly every new face looks at me with genuine interest and gratitude at helping to relieve the future workload they all struggle beneath. Someone’s always bringing in baked goods, sharing office resources (because it’s the end of the fiscal year and we are out of materials and out of money to get more). Even though some people could be getting better practice by keeping their places, they get up from their seats and let others sit there and learn because several computers are so old that they aren’t working properly and those individuals are being left out of hands-on training. There are a few young people there too, in the staff of around 160 people, and they have learned to adopt the prevailing atmosphere of love and caring and generosity. I am so pleased with my new work community.

With all the huge technical setbacks, we’ve struggled with, my class members as well as our trainer proceed with so much patience. People say earnestly to each other: “Our attitude is a choice we make each morning.” It’s a very healthy place to be.

I’m beginning to learn the bus drivers and to feel more comfortable with my ride. Again, I’m like a broken record: Portland is such a beautiful, beautiful city. I love the scenes passing by the windows as the bus takes me away from work. (It’s pitch black out in the morning, so I don’t know the scenes as well).

I’m getting used to the security routine. This is the first time I’ve had to go through a metal detector every day, and put my belongings in a tub and onto a conveyor belt. Many of my shoes set off the alarm, I’m beginning to learn which ones, and pop them into the tubs right away. I do look forward to when I get my own ID card, and can wear it on a lanyard and not be in constant fear of losing my driver’s license, which I keep in my jacket pocket with my bus pass in case I leave the building and need to get back in.

My daughter and I plan to carve our large pumpkin today. She said she doesn’t like to touch the “guts.” I said it’s a package deal. Silly girl is happy to pick up a snake, but refuses to touch the inside of a pumpkin. So, if she gets over her squeamishness, we’ll carve a pumpkin today. We watched Narnia last night. Which should be titled, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, because it’s only part of the story.

She forgot to bring her book of the Land of Elyon, which she is just about to finish, so I offered to read to her from the one I’m currently entranced by: Gone With the Wind. Oh my goodness! What a delicious book! The historical references are amazing, back to the Haitian Revolution and the Orangemen in Ireland. The character descriptions are irresistible, and Ms. Mitchell’s ability to grab my heart and pull out emotion is remarkable. The story is so incredible, I never guessed it from the movie I’ve seen. How Ellen O’Hara is the Virgin Mary in Scarlett’s eyes, and how carefully Mammy and Ellen train her to faint and act completely stupid to gain a husband, while assuming that once married, all women will need to have sharpened their intellect to its utmost in order to keep the household as well as the plantation running, all while making the loudmouthed men feel important. It’s hilarious and touching and sad and true, and filled with exquisite descriptions of the land and the costumes on the people – especially Scarlett, with her “17-inch waist, the smallest in three counties!” I recommend the book. Please, please read it!  <<wink>>

Anyway, there’s a bit of the life I’ve been living lately. Sorry to have been so hasty that I’ve left it un-commented-upon for too long.

april

Hello Friend,

I haven’t been feeling very verbal lately due to the tremendous energy expenditure of Pride, but I just had to let you know how happy I am you are working in a good culture.

Isn’t it nice working in a culture of kind people? It makes such a tremendous difference, especially if the work sucks at times. My co-workers share everything from garden grown vegetables to a constant store of chocolate in the ED’s office. Every birthday is celebrated. Every joy is shared. People are appreciated for who they really are. You can bring your sadness from home to work and people respect that you need space and may not be fully present. Or you can take mental health days and nobody has a problem  with it.

I’m hoping to apply for a promotion at work, as soon as I find out what changes they’re making to the position. It’s a management position that doesn’t manage people; only the agency’s relationships and contracts with outside entities. It would put me much closer to the good things the Agency does and challenge me to work on my social anxiety at times, but also give me lots of downtime for research and policy/procedure writing. The position also helps start new programs, which I’d love. It may be that my job search the last year was fruitless because I was meant to bring more of myself to this organization. At least I’m hoping that’s the case. Serendipitously, the Agency has to start addressing the LGBTQI community’s needs beginning in 2008, so I could be a bridge between Humboldt Pride and the agency, effecting how it serves elders.

Anyway, Your strange schedule never fails to amaze me! : ) Your best time of day is when I most like to sleep or relax. And I tend to peak in the evening if I’m working on something I love. It’s no wonder we never talk on the phone…lol.

Love you sweetie,
Ophelia

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