Monthly Archives: April 2009

Scootitude Adjustment

spring

Yesterday I left work at close to 10:00 and ventured out into the world. It was unexpectedly sunny. Unexpected for me, at least. I’m sure some people were expecting it, but I hadn’t given the weather much attention this week.

On my drive home I longed for enough fresh air to blast the demons out of me, and knew a good long scooter ride was in order. Aphrodite, of course. Only she can deliver the depth of adrenaline rush that comes from hammering the throttle as you skip uphill, lifting off at the crest and catching a panoramic shot of sky-sea-mountains before barreling down a hill so steep you can’t see the bottom. It gets the blood pumping, elevates the “wheeee!” factor, delivers a manual reset. VVB calls it a “scootitude adjustment.” It’s especially effective with the sun out.

I suited up and headed out with no plans on a destination, just GO. Just FAST. So I skimmed along Beach Drive and up to California, sun on my face, shield of my new ladybug helmet flipped up so the fresh air could blast the demons out of me. I zoomed down Fauntleroy, past the parks and ferries, and around the bend up to Marine View Drive. It was mid-day and the residential areas were silent and still, except for a handful of lawnmowers filling the air with the intoxicating smell of fresh cut grass. No traffic, no vehicles – just me, the wind, Puget Sound and the swirl of cherry blossoms cascading like pink snow in the breeze.

I took one of the snaky turns, the kind with a caution sign, and I felt like the scooter was not as nimble as she usually is. The ride is normally fluid and weightless. Then I realized that the scooter was fine — it was me. Rigid as stone, shoulders at my ears, white-knuckled, grinding my teeth. I hadn’t realized it until the Vespa wasn’t cornering as spritely as I’m used to. And there I am, eyeballs fairly popping out of my head, a red plume of angst exhaling from my ears.

All of a sudden I became aware of the tension I was harboring, that I had been carrying around for two weeks. I took a deep breath and let all of it go, seeing my body loosen visibly. What am I doing to myself? I am not a stressed-out person. I have systematically and vigilantly combed through my entire life, eliminating any possible stressor. I know how damaging stress is, especially to me. I’m a very sensitive individual, as I’ve been told many times (often punctuated with exhasperation). Any sustained stress leaves me a strung-out insomniac, unable to eat solid food.

I kept riding – if I could just get the speedometer up high enough, I’d leave all the anxiety behind. Suprisingly, it works. Which is why I wear lots of safety gear during scootitude adjustments.

After many miles, my homing device shepherded me back to Cupcake Royale, just in time for lunch. I enjoyed a Red Velvet, poured out a dozen pages of longhand apology to myself for allowing things to get so hectic, realigned all of my priorities, and returned home to nap in the luscious open window salty breeze.

I awoke as though rising up from a coma. Cat purring on my hip, sun slanting through the windowpanes, seagulls trumpeting their victory over the crows. I felt fresh and new, weightless.

It’s the scooter. You have to get one. I’m serious.

Last night, the Page made a killer curry and suggested we go to Bellingham for the weekend. I still haven’t been. He says, “So you can finally take that picture you need, that street – which one is it?” The shop fronts on Holly, I tell him. I love that he remembers random things like that, mentioned long ago in passing. Lyrics from a song he’s probably never heard. And that he’s willing to indulge a silly girl who moved to Seattle so she can make indie rock pilgrimages, re-enact movie script endings, and take photos of the shop fronts on Holly (they’re dirty words – asterisks in for the vowels).

Work this morning is decidedly post-war; the smoke is clearing and people are poking cautious heads out of foxholes, surveying the carnage. “Good to see you,” takes on a new gravity.

I think it will be okay. Yesterday I wasn’t so sure. All it really took to convince me was 250cc and a nap.

Viva la Vespa.

Funeral Music

This morning, before I even had my coat off, my boss was beckoning me into his office. I was half an hour late, in textbook “Avoid the Shitstorm” fashion. The gloom around here has been palpable for days.

My knees were a bit weak as I sat down and he closed the door. He never closes the door. “Today’s the day,” he said with finality. “You’re not getting laid-off, I don’t think I even need to tell you that… do I need to tell you that? Were you worried?” He looked at my ashen face. “I’ve had a few sleepless nights,” I told him. Part of the insomnia was from last week’s cortisone injection, but the rest was the lingering shard of doubt that I’d still have a job today.

Last night my co-worker called to see if I’d been laid-off; she’d received her walking papers at the end of the day. In the exit interview, they gave her a list of the ages of everyone who was being let go, which we both found strange and fascinating. No names, just ages. It’s apparently an EOE legal disclosure. We tried to guess who was who. As the only person in Development who is 33, it appeared my job was safe. But you never know. They’re getting rid of 32% of the company – 160 people – and I can think of a few other folks who probably have earned more right to stay than I. The panic and dread has engulfed me for two weeks. I thought I’d feel better knowing my fate, but it hasn’t quelled the anxiety in my stomach.

My boss said I didn’t have to stay today, if I didn’t want to. “I recommend you hide,” he advised. HR has reserved the conference room in my department for exit interviews, which means a steady stream of angry and dejected co-workers will be passing by my desk all day. I can think of a few other places I’d rather be.

Now I know who’s getting the axe, and some of them don’t know yet. They’re talking to me, giving me tasks, and I’m tossing them in the “Friday” to-do pile because by then it will be irrelevant.

I didn’t realize how sad I’d be. I’ve never handled change well.

Though honestly, I could think of worse times to be laid-off than at the beginning of summer in the Pacific Northwest.

Just saying.

I think I’ll head home and grieve remotely.

A Perfect Square of Sky

cherries

The cherries tell us spring is on the way… just hold on… just a few more weeks. They are everywhere, filling the sky with confetti explosions of pink and sweetness. I ride slowly down the cherry-lined streets, letting the fragrant air wash over my face. Each spring, all it takes is one or two sunny days and a grove of cherry trees in bloom, and I start to believe I might survive one more year. So I’ve been wearing skirts, going to the beach and eating fresh fruit with my fingers.

My little point-and-shoot camera quit on me a few weeks ago, and I just replaced it with a newer version. I like to take walks in my neighborhood after dinner and take digital polaroids. This city is so rich with material. I can do entire series of vintage pick-up trucks, or seagull lawn ornaments, or discarded televisions. Mostly, though, I just keep taking the same two photographs of the beach at sunset.

alkiagain

alkiagain2

Yesterday the mountains looked amazing and I took a photo to share my “I can’t believe I live here” moment that occurs every single night. On my way home from work, when I crest the hill and wind around the curve, Alki unveils a heart-stopping view of water, mountains, ferries, sky, evergreens and clouds for me.

wayhome

I discovered on Sunday that my new camera has some fun features, including “color replacement” and “color highlight” that I haven’t quite figured out yet. I was toying with the settings while grilling with the Page’s family. I took some photos of highly verdant asparagus. I also tooks some cool shots in the hallway with inverted colors. Imagine the masterpieces I will create once I actually read the camera manual!

asparagus

hallway

Hope you, too, are enjoying the spring.