DefCon Notes from a Patio – August 2006

I’m sitting outside on a sun-heated patio, hoping I wore enough sunscreen. I’m at a self-imposed break in the conference action and exhausted, but not ready to give in and go back to the hotel. I’m loving every minute of this. Here there are people who are questioners, who rarely take anything at face value and aren’t here just because work requires them to be here. They all have spent considerable time and effort to be here and learn.

Las Vegas is a facade. I knew this, but it’s different to be here. I’m seeing one Las Vegas — the fake one — but there are four or five different other ones, I think. I want to see the Vegas where people really live, the one where, I’m told, fewer people than anywhere else go to college. If I were 18 and could make reasonable money as a dealer in a casino or unreasonable money as a dancer, I wouldn’t want to go to college either. When I was 28, I might feel differently, but it would be difficult to start over. That’s what I imagine, though I don’t know.

Vegas is lights and lights and fake shoes and gambling and trams and great bathrooms. Vegas is limbo. Vegas is hope. Vegas is faith, Vegas is a soul, in black on neon.

Trees – March 2007

I want
to lean out
             my window
                         and scream
             to the trees,

their bark against my hands,
branches rough,

They are not putting on a show for anyone.

They are the only real things I’ve talked to
in a week and a half,
and they say nothing.

The TV blares
endless repetition of cautious cronies
ever ongoing without pause
to breathe.

The trees know how to breathe.

I want to fall
into the trees.

Last Night in the Apartment – March 2014

It’s my last night in my empty apartment. I’m off to Chelsea tomorrow, for the next chapter in my assessment process that I suspect is leading toward a new career in a new city. This is my last stop on the way to certainty, a chance to think through things from a new perspective, unencumbered by furniture and belongings spilling from closets or by a year-long lease. How do I feel, with all anchors removed, when I go to work in the morning? Do I enjoy the experience without the pressure of needing to keep up the lease, keep up appearances, or do I feel even less connected and decide to break free and do something different? Time will tell.

I’ve loved this apartment. It’s a great place where I grew and learned and got healthy and found peace and got well. I didn’t meet The One (or if I did, nothing came of it yet), and I didn’t move happily into another home, and I didn’t relax on the couch with glasses of wine or throw dinner parties or any of those things that would indicate I was permanently home. I watched the seasons through the windows, and I did the necessary work, and I got to know myself and my body and I made my first big successes. I solved my problems, mainly because I refused to give up and was willing to think out of the box and keep trying.

That’s really all there is to life, I think. Think out of the box and keep trying. Don’t get stuck. Keep moving, keep believing, keep open to what the universe wants to tell you, keep loving and living and giving and thinking and being and find yourself in the end.

Germany – June 2011

I miss the house in Germany. Before I forget, I want to write it down. I miss the flies that filled every corner of the windows during the summer, buzzing and disturbing reading during the day and sleep during the night. I miss the flowers that bloomed haphazardly in planned chaos. I miss the currant bushes with red and white and black fruits to pick straight from the vine. I miss the owl in the attic and the cool floor tiles underfoot even in the heat of the day. I miss the feeling of possibly being home.

The artwork on the walls came from Africa, including a national treasure from Ethiopia. The cats had free run of the house, including one neurotic cat, one wild cat, and one perfect cat. She would roll over and stretch out so I could rub her belly. She knew she was the queen.

I miss the eggs left out on the counter and not refrigerated, the food fresh from farms that I knew was not contaminated, the water flowing freely and unaltered from the pipes. I miss the sounds of pheasants outside and the utter silence and darkness at night, the creak of wooden doors when moving from bedroom to bathroom.

I miss the welcoming air of the place, where I knew I was a guest but a welcome one, a perhaps. I miss the home-cooked food made just for us, the mother who made it, and the afternoon teas with sweets and conversation. I even miss the swimming hole where I was afraid of sinking below the surface and drowning in the sixty feet of dark water with no lifeguard, crowned by floating lilypads.

I miss the North Sea and the old ship that took us up the Oste River there, the seals lying out on the banks, the freighters in the water. I miss eating dinner on a boat moored in a town whose name I forget already, serving fish from the area and tiny pink shrimp called Seekrabben. I miss sitting out on lawn chairs during summer, watching dusk at 10 p.m. and waiting for the bats to swirl. I miss the smell of clean ocean air and the zoo with the wolves and the only hill in a hundred miles, crunching wood chips underneath our feet on the trail during the winter, with snow on the sides of the path between the trees.

I miss the moors in the dim light of winter, the trees and roads and mist. I miss the ice and snow and the Christmas tree and the chill of the house in such contrast to the summer heat. I miss the hot gluehwein and even the process of starting the car and the helpful neighbor who came miles to tow the car back when it broke down. I even miss the panic I felt when they lit the candles on the tree and calmly declined my suggestion of putting a water bucket nearby. I don’t miss the freezing shower in the morning during winter or the bees that sent me indoors during summer, but no place can have it all.

There is a place in my mind for the house in Germany. Perhaps I miss the idea of it most of all, a half-formed thing that never took shape and flew.

Airport Ennui – February 2014

Time in the airport spirals. It spirals in a haze of pleasant white light (in the business lounge) or harsh fluorescence (in the walkways) and becomes endless. I read half of a book (Nail It Then Scale It). I jot down ideas for iterating on a project. I get more tea. Then water. Then tea. Back and forth to the counter, aimless, sliding seamlessly on Lufthansa’s predefined paths.

I’m bored. I thought a seven-hour layover was a good idea.

I do like long layovers in a strange, undefined way. They are the fuzzy part of a trip. The pit of potential productivity. I could create something great here, in the airport lounge. I could write something, plan a new feature, get a new idea, implement new code, or just do nothing. Tea. More tea. Back and forth.

Mostly people don’t talk to each other in the business lounge. I find I’m more productive, because I’m not constantly seeking the next conversation. I meet people on planes all the time, because we are stuck there and the proximity favors talking, at least before we fall asleep or tune each other out with headphones.

I imagine being stuck for days or weeks, walking endlessly from terminal A to Z in simulated comfort, buying boxes of Niederegger marzipan because it is the best thing in the airport. Washing it down with Courvoisier. Yuck. Or water, sold with a smile. Guten tag, Hola, Hello, Hallo, it all sounds the same. The food is better in Europe.

The guy behind me left. That’s good, because I was uncomfortable writing with him there, felt that he was peering over my shoulder even though of course he was not. Airport privacy is transparent, artificial. We are each perfectly alone and completely seen. I am sure there are cameras in the ceiling.

I wonder who is doing actual productive work here and who is aimlessly browsing the Internet or reading a book for pleasure or just staring into space. Staring into space is actually a good disguise for productive work, happening behind the scenes.

I consider creating a blog to post this, then sending a note to my friends, “Hey! I started a blog,” to which their response will be, YAWN.

I am not on Facebook. I alternate between relief to have avoided drama, and wishing for a presence so I wouldn’t need to start a blog to post these thoughts. I want to unify my social media presence, so my life is seamless and I can share what I want when I want but ONLY with who I want. I’m hoping Google+ is the answer to that prayer, eventually. Right now my life is in fragments. I have my LinkedIn persona and my new G+ page, a blog on organic food, a site on general wellness from an environmental/alternative health perspective, and a site for organizing MOOCs and online learning resources. I have a dormant site for people who want to move cities (this site I actually think is the best one — I launched it in 2002 in L.A. but let my family talk me out of it. I still keep thinking about it.)

I really want to unify my life, not my social media presence.

The airport is buzzing quietly with the noise of suitcase wheels and heels. People coming and going, in between.