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I think, sometimes, it must be a bit odd living with me.
On Sunday afternoon, with many things troubling my mind, I went outside and took a nice walk. I also looked at my neighborhood and noticed the way the sunlight is shifting. A cool tinge to the breeze. And I noticed that college kids are starting to move back to this college town.
When I got home I was a bit tired, a little sweaty, and more centered in my mind.
“Oh!” I said, as The Good Man and I talked things over, “I brought something home.”
His eyes lit up at the prospect. What could it be? Something freshly baked from our fabulous neighborhood shop? A pound of aromatic fresh ground coffee? A small fun tchotchke from one of the many nearby gifty shops?
Nope. What I brought home to my sweetheart was this:
From a Red Maple tree
I brought my love a leaf.
More than a leaf, it was the perfect representation of how restless I was feeling. As summer begins to give way to fall. As youth gives way to middle age. As things are in motion and changing at my place of work.
I was stunned on my walk to notice that leaves are already changing. Trees are starting to turn the bright reds and yellow and oranges of fall. I’m sure our unseasonably cool late summer has been part of the reason, but I was startled to see the change. I was also comforted to know that the restless feelings inside me are in sync with nature.
It is both a green leaf and a red leaf at the same time. Both the joy of spring and the end of summer. Happy and sad. Birth and death.
My theme song lately has been Sam Cooke, “A Change Is Gonna Come.” I just recently found this song again through the whims of Pandora’s algorithms. And as Pandora is want to do, it plays at least once a day during my work days. Occasionally, if the time is right and the office door is closed, I sing along.
It is a sad song. A lament. But also, it’s inevitable that change has to happen. Like that leaf, there has to be some core that remains and stays in place to keep you grounded. With that grounding, then other things can change.
Lest you think I have any personal big changes planned, I do not. I consider most of my life to be my rock. But things around me are changing at a rapid clip, and I am feeling that happen.
Seasons are in transition. Things at work are changing fast, and actually have been changing for some time. And the nation is changing too. This election cycle has been nothing short of the lunchroom at an insane asylum. Come November, things are changing for all of us, no matter how the voting goes. Even the world is changing. Both for the good and for the bad.
I’m not always very good with a lot of change. Some people thrive. Me, I get a little worried. It’s my way.
But on that sunny Sunday in Northern California, a pretty little leaf became the perfect metaphor for what’s going on inside of me.
And The Good Man, he understands that sometimes I need to bring home a leaf to best explain everything that’s on my mind.
Because I can, I ran my leaf photo through the Prism app, which I just adore. My favorite of the conversions was this one.
Thought I’d share it too:
Same leaf, now artified
Leaf photos ©2016, Karen Fayeth, taken with an iPhone6, the Camera+ app, and the Prism app. Subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page.
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This morning I geared up my mind and girded my loins for an important meeting. The event was a compliance review on a big project that I am working through. This project is the cause of many long hours, at least three migraine headaches and a lack of sleep. This compliance review is the last bit of internal check boxes required before we can implement this project fully and completely.
That I was even sitting in the room having the meeting is a gigantic achievement for this challenging project.
That said, I don’t necessarily have the cleanest track record in these compliance review meetings. About a month ago in a similar meeting for a different project, I lost my cool and let the chairperson have a bushel full of how I really feel.
After which I was “spoken to” by my manager who mostly empathized with me. I stand by what I said, and told my manager as much. I was simply asked to “try a little harder” next time.
Because there is always a next time.
Today I had to go back in there and keep the end in mind. I knew if I was able to get through the compliance meeting, and get approvals, that I would be able to finish this project that has me burning out quickly, turning into a crispy little Karen.
The order of the day was calm. Serene. Peace.
Now, I realize that not all of my fair and wonderful readers know me in person. If you do know me in person, you could know that calm, serene and peaceful are not adjectives often used to describe yours truly.
But I had to “try a little harder.” So I did deep breathing and a few deep knee bends before the event. I got to the meeting room early and got situated. I planted my feet on the ground and made a promise to myself that I would stay calm.
As the meeting progressed there were times where I wanted to say what was really on my mind, but somehow I magically refrained.
“Okay. What would you like to see in the documentation?” I said calmly and not at all snarkily. I felt the inner snark but I kept it tucked away under a beatific smile.
When all was done and I had the full list of changes and corrections, I walked out of the conference room and back to my desk.
Where I texted The Good Man the following:
“You oughta f—–g nickname me Buddha after that last hour of my life….”
You see, he knows me all too well and he knows I had this important meeting today. Then I followed it up with:
“I ohm’ed the sh*t out of that meeting.”
And then I took to Google where a short image search netted me the perfect image, which I also sent to The Good Man to further emphasize my point.
And that about sums it up.
Just call me Buddha, bitches.
Image found here.
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When I have had a big event, a big adventure or just something interesting happen in my life, I almost always have to spend a little time processing it, usually out loud and on these pages.
Having just returned from a weeklong trip to Ireland, I’m pretty sure that readers here will be treated to (tormented by?) several posts about my days in Dublin. I had such a wonderful time and I want to get all the stories out and onto the page.
The question is, where to begin? Some would say start at the beginning. Some would say start somewhere in the middle when things begin to get good. Others still say to start wherever you want.
The thing is, I usually don’t get a say in where to begin telling a story. The Muse has a mind of her own and she tends to open one sliding door in my mind to show me what she’s interested in, while keeping the other doors firmly closed until she’s good and ready.
What I mean today is that there is one story, one experience, that keeps replaying in my mind. It is the sum of my entire view of Ireland and probably belongs at the end of the entire tale.
But why cave to the convention of putting the end of the story at the end? This is what I want to write, so this is what will be written. For today, at least.
Here we go…
The hotel where I stayed was in a rather upscale suburb of Dublin named Donnybrook. Back in the day, Donnybrook used to be the scene of an event called the Donnybrook Fair. And by “back in the day”, I mean like the 1200’s through the 1800s.
Evidently that event turned from a nice twelve-day fair, fun for the whole family, to a drunken brawling event. In fact the very word donnybrook has come to mean a brawl or fracas.
The Catholic Church took a dim view of this debauchery (as they are wont to do) and ultimately lobbied for the fair to shut down, mainly by building a church right at the event site.
This is a great story, I love it, but it’s kind of tangential. Let me get back on track. In this wonderful Donnybrook neighborhood, there are quite a few shops, restaurants and a couple pubs.
One of the pubs, named McCloskey’s, was about a half a block away from where I was staying. I could see it from the window in my hotel room.
Image found here.
I had walked past the place quite a few times but was never brave enough to go in. Something about genuine pubs kind of intimidates me. It’s a mix of the expected amount of hesitation being a woman going into a bar alone, and my propensity to overworry that I’ll somehow say or do something that breaks the unwritten protocol of the pub.
I also never am sure how Americans are perceived so it’s always a little tentative for me. Which is silly because of the pubs I’ve encountered in the UK and now Ireland, it’s always been a lovely experience.
On Thursday after what had been a busy and intense workweek, I decided to go inside McCloskey’s. I was hungry, I love pub food, and I was in desperate need of a pint.
With a deep breath, I opened the door and went in. I walked the length of the place to give it a look-see and decided to stay, taking up a corner seat at the bar.
The bartender was a fireplug of a man, in his early fifties, with a pugilistic look about him and a vibe that was clear he knew how to run a pub. He could and would toss your ass out without hesitation and with force.
He came over and slid a napkin on the bar like skipping a rock and asked, “What’ll you have?”
“A pint of Guinness,” I replied with confidence. He nodded with a grunt and poured the beer. In hindsight, I should have just said “A Guinness,” the pint is understood.
What a lovely pint it was. A perfect pour, the perfect temperature, perfect creamy foam on top. Oh yes. I wanted to take a picture of it so I could always remember that beautiful moment, but thought better of it. It felt like the bartender may take a dim view of selfies and Instagram in his pub.
As he set the pint down I asked, “Can I order some food?”
“Er, yeah, we have a stew, the fish and something else I can’t remember” he said.
“I’ll have the fish,” I said.
“Fish and chips, you know?”
He grunted again and went off to the kitchen to place the order. I sat there feeling tense and sipping my beer. There were really only about four people in the pub, all quietly drinking and keeping to themselves. 1970’s disco played from a small boom box to fill the atmosphere.
Next to me was a stack of local newspapers so I picked one up and read it, giving me something to do as I sat alone and tried to act normal.
After a bit my food came and it was so delicious. Light and crispy cod, perfect chips and slices of tomato. I ate it joyfully and drank my Guinness and suddenly everything was really right with the world.
During this time, the bartender mostly ignored me. He was friendly but distant. Gruff but fair, I suppose, and that was fine.
While I ate, a group of people came in. They were obviously all family, and they took up chairs and seats around several tables. Then more and more kept arriving. There were probably twenty or more people and one older gentleman with graying hair was buying all the drinks.
These folks were all in a good mood and talking excitedly. At one point someone teased the older man about “never being around” and he tipped his pint glass to them and said, “now that’s one thing you can never say about my term! My opponent can’t say the same.”
It was then I sussed out that this might be a local politician. I heard someone call him by his first name and as I was texting the play by play to The Good Man, he did a quick Google search and we discovered I was in the pub with the local councilman. Elections were due to be held the next day. My guess is he was out celebrating the end of his campaign run with friends and family.
As the crowd grew, it became such a convivial atmosphere. I sat next to one of his daughters and we chatted and laughed. Her son, who looked to be about five, ordered a cranberry juice and wanted it served in a Guinness pint glass. Everyone bought and ate small cans of Pringles.
As ever more people kept piling in, I kind of felt like I needed to get out of there. I’m sure I could have stayed and been fine, but I started to feel like an outsider.
So I hopped up from my barstool and went over the cash register where the bartender stood. He turned to me and I said, “I’d like to tab out, please.”
“Oh sure,” he replied and began ringing me up.
“That will be twelve euros fifty,” he said. I handed him a twenty euro bill.
He took it and looked me, touched my hand and said, “You doing okay, darlin’? Was everything all right?” with genuine concern in his eyes.
I replied, “Yes, it was great. I’m…I’m just a little jet lagged and very low energy.”
He had a sparkle in his eye when he smiled, then tapped my hand again and said, “That’s okay, darlin’, you still look gorgeous!” He laughed like a schoolboy while he got my change.
He put the bills and coins in my palm and said, “now you have a good night, eh?”
I left the pub with a smile on my face. Now that, the whole story and everything in it, that’s Ireland to me.
It is a wonderful, charming and friendly place. I loved every minute of the time I spent in the city of Dublin and the district of Donnybrook.
A view from my hotel room. Lovely! Copyright © Karen Fayeth, 2014
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I’ve been on this big blue marble for a good number of years, and as I get older, some things make more sense, some make less sense, and then there are a few things I think I’ll never quite understand.
Last week was what I would call brutal. Ok, maybe brutal is too strong a word. My basic needs were met. My loved ones remained safe and sound, and also had their basic needs met. I got to and from work safely and even got paid.
But something really weird was happening last week. It all seemed to come to a head on Friday which is normally the greatest day of the week. A normal Friday flies by with ease from my late arrival to my early departures at work. If they call it stormy Monday, then the eagle flies on Friday.
Not this Friday. It didn’t soar like an eagle, it plopped like a cow patty.
Arriving at work in the morning I was bone tired. Sleep had not come easy over the previous four days. As I trudged to my desk I could only look forward to a happy hour birthday celebration that evening, then early to bed, and hopefully sleeping late on Saturday.
I had only one meeting on the calendar so I’d hoped to use the day to catch up, get on top of my to do list, and prepare for the week ahead.
Friday had other plans. Early in the day I was summoned to the manager’s office and informed that a particular project we’ve been working on has completely unraveled. Like…the thread on the sweater was inadvertently glued to the tail of a frightened rabbit thus unraveling not slowly but quickly and in herky-jerky motions.
As we were suddenly pulled into crisis mode, I was running around the office looking for certain people, finding certain documents, etc. As I sat in the manager’s office on yet another conference call, I noticed a small sparkling at the periphery of my eyes. Oh yay, an aura, the beginnings of one whopper of a migraine. Awesome.
Crisis mode + migraine + exhausted body + I’m still new here! = what a crummy day!
But wait! The day wasn’t done with me yet. Like a pitbull it clamped down with powerful jaws and refused to release.
I shot gunned some lunch as I ran to another meeting and another conference call and when that exhausting bit of work was through, I noticed something odd about my mouth. I had grit on my tongue. Oh awesome, I broke a tooth and still don’t even know how that happened. There is a huge chunk out of a back molar. Like a good little grownup I immediately called my dentist’s office and heard their message telling me that my favorite dental professional is out of the office until March 8th. Hooray!
Thankfully the tooth doesn’t hurt (so far) but it’s kind of sharp and annoying.
Finally, Friday saw fit to come to the end of daytime hours and around 5:00pm I got into my car feeling beaten, broken and sad. My office building is very near a crossroads of three separate highways, so getting onto the highway is always a little rough, and I have to endure about half a mile of cruddy traffic before I pick the highway I need and it opens up. Friday was particularly backed up and I’d not really ever seen it so bad.
Until I realized that a car had stalled right in the heart of the big interchange. In a location that impacted EVERYONE regardless of which highway they need to take. Double yay!
Let me remind, here, that this was just the details of Friday. The first four days of the week had been similar, so in the commute home on the last day of this hellish week, I found myself stuck behind a tow truck and of course no one would let me over. Honestly, I just about slipped off my nut. I came real close to just finally losing my tenuous grasp on reality.
I kept telling myself to breathe, to endure, to be resilient even as my resolve was being worn down by the big belt sander of life (which happened to be using the heaviest grit sandpaper available).
When I posted something on Facebook about Friday being a crummy day, I got responses from a few folks saying they had a bad day too. When I talked to friends at happy hour, they too said that Friday was especially bad.
What I’ll never understand is how this happens. How we all can be going along just fine then suddenly we all, every one of us, gets thrown a curveball low and inside.
I’m not much for big woo-woo type things, but is it something cosmic? The full moon and Mercury Retrograde and changing seasons all at once? Is the jet stream a little off kilter? Is it the long road until the next holiday day at work that has us all a little bent out of shape?
Hard to know, but I sure as heck don’t understand. A few people having a bad day seems pretty fat part of the bell curve kind of stuff. Everyone you talk to having a crumb-bum day seems like that cosmic belt sander is really working overtime.
Image by Wikimedia user Luigizanasi and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Canada license.
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He was inordinately fond of jokes, anecdotes, and stories. He loved to hear them, and still more to tell them himself out of the inexhaustible supply provided by his good memory…the coarser the joke, the lower the anecdote, and the more risky the story, the more he enjoyed them…
He possessed, moreover, a singular ingenuity in bringing about occasions in conversation for indulgences of this kind.
Reporter Henry Villard is discussing the tendency of his interview subject to tell bawdy jokes and stories, and to invent many occasions in conversation to insert his inexhaustible supply of coarse humor.
Sounds like a fun guy. The kind of guy I’d like to have a beer with. I do love coarse humor.
This guy certainly does not, however, sound like a good political candidate. In this internet era of “always on,” deep political gasping happens when a candidate so much as tap dances on a very wide line of humor. A candidate who inserts risky stories into conversation with a journalist from a widely read publication would not last long in this modern political atmosphere. We’ve seen a couple try and they have ended up becoming a footnote, a forgotten punchline and a big political loser.
In this instance, the year was 1858, the publication was The Atlantic, and the candidate for Senate being interviewed was none other than Abraham Lincoln.
In ways I can’t fully explain, it kind of cheers me up to know that Lincoln loved a good dirty joke. I knew he was a bit of an awkward man and was prone to being a “high talker” when he’s get worked up. But until today I didn’t know he had a penchant for bawdy humor.
I’ll never look at a penny the same way.
Happy Presidents Day!
“Tell me another fart joke, father.”
Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad.
Quote from “Recollections of Lincoln” by Henry Villard published in February 1904 in The Atlantic magazine.
Photo from HistoryPlace.com.