Friday, January 11, 2008

Lunchtime Thoughts

At lunch today, I sat in a 2-person booth and read posts. The coney was very crowded, no surprise considering I got there at five after noon. I sat in the smoking section. Even though I'm not a smoker, I've found that most often, when one is seeking to be ignored at his table by others at their tables, it's best to choose the smoking section. This is partially because groups with small kids don't sit there, and whenever small kids are around I have trouble concentrating on anything but them. The place being as crowded as it was, it was very smokey.

No matter, thought I, and plodded into the plots of Phoenix7 and USS Arapaho. I was blissfully into cold flow when my senses became acutely aware of...something. I looked up unconsciously and discovered a new smell: something very pleasant and vastly different from that of the lingering haze around me. It was then I saw that a woman had just settled beside me in the booth opposite the little cream-and-green-checkered wall separating our rows.

She was not necessarily an attractive woman. Although all I could see of her was the top of her head, she seemed to be a smallish woman. Her hair was a short, spiky blonde, and she had the top of her ear pierced with a not very subtle stud of some kind. She wore glasses.

I went back to my reading, still struck by the effect this person's smell was having on me. I enjoyed it subtly throughout the rest of my lunch. At some point, I decided to mention it to her. I formulated some comment: "Pardon me, if you don't mind me saying so, you smell very nice" or something like that.

By the time I stood to leave, I'd lost my nerve. I put on my jacket and looked at her, prepared to rationalize myself right out of speaking up. She returned the look, full in the face, and smiled. She was not extraordinary, but something connected between us. I reconsidered my comment, but nothing came out. The smile I offered in return was barely a smile at all. I said nothing. As I walked off to pay my check, I chided myself for not being honest enough with myself to acknowledge the energy others occasionally give me so freely, abundantly, and, apparently, thanklessly.

* * * * *

So I've sort of rediscovered a hunger for language.

This comes after a handful of months in doldrums, caused by who knows what...emotional reaction to my dad's cancer, financial worries of the holidays, seasonal changes, quarterly men's cycle...whatever it is, I've resolved to get a handle on it.

Yesterday I jokingly told a coworker I was 'turning over a new leaf.' "Another one?" she replied. Yes, I thought. "Gotta keep trying 'til you find I find the right leaf," I said. Today, I was talking to my Jane Austen buddy and described my resolution as something different than the traditional thing people make and break on an annual basis. I compared the cycle to a pay period. Couple days before payday, typically I don't have a choice but to pack a lunch and go hungry at snack time. It's how things work. I'm making (perhaps forcing, but time will tell on that judgment) a similar assessment of 2007. My resources had simply run out. Since 01 Jan, I've got a clean slate, a full emotional pocket. Practically, I know the main difference is just attitude, but I understand enough about how I work inside to create an emotional and physiological environment to either make or break this change. And two weeks into the new year, I'm doing great.

So as I've said, I'm rediscovering an old love. As it happens, this rediscovery comes a few months (hrm, imagine that *refers to 'handful of months' reference above*) after I made the hard decision to break clean from my responsibilities in the art of language. I simply wasn't doing the job, and the organization was suffering as a result. A week or so ago, with Me08 in full effect, I went back to the org for some casual writing, maybe to help out if I could.

Going through the posts was a joyful, painful process. I instinctively edited, then made notes in the margins, and finally ended up full-on bitching about some of the mistakes in grammar, spelling, and style I noticed. I wrote across one paragraph in angry, black ink THIS MAKES NO [EXPLETIVE] SENSE. A small part of me shouted from deep, deep within "I told you so!" But I paid no heed...after all, Me08 doesn't stop and linger at the energy blocking stuff, he rolls on.

And so now I'm faced with a new quandary: how to apply my rediscovered love. And whether. I could just keep writing, helping in small ways, the smallest being to set a good example. I could go volunteering for some online editing, but I fear I may become swamped. I almost wrote "swamped again" but I'm not sure it applies. After all, the reasons I quit last year, though certainly valid in their own context, may or may not have had anything to do with my schedule. Whatever it was, it doesn't matter now. What matters now.

Addendum: Edited for politeness.

Disclaimer: A majority of the writers I work with are both talented and creative, including the one who got the expletive on his post. The truth is I'm a grammar snob. So sue me.

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