Friday, February 29, 2008

Playing Human part 1

Ok, in my defense it was seven years ago that I thought this was good. Still, I have read worse. And it's definitely better than the company newsletter. If you're bored. Reallly, really bored and there's no new netflix in the mailbox, your friends are all out of town, it's raining, and the cats are asleep instead of entertaining you. Five more workdays...

It was late May, but it was forty degrees fareheight and the sun was low and caused Vivian to squint, like winter in the continental states. She shivered as the chopper lifted off behind her. She'd expected snow and maybe an appropriate vehicle, but there was just lichen and moss covering the rocks and the gnarled, scarred pines. She pulled her shades on. It cut down the overall brightness, but the sun still lanced her eyes over the top of the plastic lenses. Goggles would have been more like it. The thin air made her lungs work harder, as if she'd been walking instead of having just stepped out of a warm, properly oxygenated helicopter. Once she got in a cabin, safe from wind and sun with a raoring fire at her toes she'd feel better.

A balding man walked toward her, thick and round, or maybe that was just the layers of clothes necessary. He held out his hand and she was surprised it wasn't gloved like hers. He was probably used to the cold. Vivian hoped the assignment wouldn't take long enough to acclimate her.
"Ted Cohelan." He didn't smile.
"Sarah Johnson." She squeezed his hand, hard. Neither of them averted their eyes. The sound from the leaving chopper faded. He broke the silence first.
"So, Ms. Johnson, how much are you going to tell me?"
She appreciated his straightforwardness. "Depends on how much you tell me, " she answered. The wind whistled in her ear, and he must have heard it, too.
"Camp's right over the hill," he jerked his thumb towards a rocky rise. "Why don't we talk there." She nodded and picked up her bags, and they started walking. She despised small talk and didn't even try. Cohelan didn't attempt either. She could tell he resented her presence, but it wasn't personal.The only thing he knew so far was that Uncle Sam, the biggest sponsor of Project Lupine, suddenly wanted one of their own on the Alaskan site. They reached the top of the hill and she studied her new, if temporary, residence.
"What-?" It was out of her mouth before she could stop it. The wind seem to carry her voice away, but he'd heard.
"Is there a problem?"
She stared in dismay at the graying canvas tents of the encampment There was not a single solid structure, except a few solar panels here and there.
"I don't suppose there's some nice cabins with plumbing and electricity over the next hill?"
"There's a town about 105 miles from here with a bed and breakfast you can stay at." He looked hopeful. She wanted to tell him that after the last few months of dodging bullets for her country she felt a picturesque cabin was owed to her, but that was classified. Besides, just as she wasn't the one he really resented, neither was he the one who had asked her here. If her superiors were the source of both Vivian's and Cohelan's ire, maybe they'd get along after all. She slung one bag over her shouder and started walking again.
"This will be fine. The tents at least cut off the win, right?" The wind made it so much colder.
He nodded, disapointed. "I'll show you yours and you can settle in. Then we'll talk."
"We'll talk now."
"I'm in charge here." Ted stopped.
"Of your team, yes. Of me, no." He started to argue, but she cut him off. "I'm not going to get in the way. I'm here to observe and ask questions." He glared at her, jaw clenched and wind ruffling the fur of his parka, and weighed her words. She gave him credit for thinking before letting anger take his tongue.
"As long as no one's taking over the project. I have some rules, though. I don't want you in the lab by yourself, or approaching the wolves by yourself." He tilted his head, eyebrows lifted in question.
"Clear." It sounded like agreement, and his shoulders loosened. That didn't mean he was going to be friendly, but at least that word seemed to settle him.
They reached the biggest tent, and it was more like a cloth cabin than a dome or triangle you might see at a campsite in Yosemite. It haad four sides and a peaked roof, and plenty of headroom. At 5'11", Vivian always noticed and appreciated headroom. Cohelan pushed a flap open and she followed him in, hand unconciously hovering at her open jacket, ready to reach for her gun. It was a habbit she had no intention of breaking.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Love to read

I love to read. If I go for more than a day without reading something, anything, I start feeling stir crazy. When I'm on my ten minute lunch, I'll read the "postive outlook" propaganda that gets distributed to all the offices. You know, the company newsletter that tries to convince us our job is like living in a disney movie. Well, that's how desperate I get for reading material. Bitterness aside, that particular rag is always at least good for a laugh or two. Like when it mentions our "average" salary. Whoops, there I go again.

I actually had a point to make about READING. I only have six (WOOOOHOOOOOOO) workdays left anyway, so let it go, right? So, reading. I want to give people something to read. At work I think of the best posts to write (pardon the egomania) and yet, when I get home I'm too pooped to do more than plant my rear on the softest available surface with a nearby screen for zoning out. However, I do have something for you to read. If you're really, really, bored. Or pooped from a long workday. Or both. So While I get to transcribing it, here are some pretty pics for ya.

P.S. While a departure from regularly scheduled cat fawnings and garden lamenting, the coming story installments will always be second to any exciting new developements in the world of hermitdom. Is that an oxymoron? Exciting... hermitage...? Naaaaaah.

Nevermind I hate blogger!!! Never takes my pictures! ARRRRRG thats all I could get. I'm off to transcribe now. (these are from going to the beach with my sis- don't worry, I WILL email you those sooner or later!)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mighty Mouth

Pheonix has a very unique voice. He says, "Puurr-row row? Merrow?", Whereas Maggie May has a teeny tiny voice. It sounds like, "mi? mi?". If she even makes a sound at all.

Well, I had this wild burst of energy, and I tore up the hill, Pheonix leading the way. I didn't go that far, or, I should say, MAKE it that far, I think there was some excess body weight slowing me down. Naw, I was probably just tired. Anyway, I stopped just around one of the giant Douglas firs and sat down. These trees are easily five - seven feet in diameter, so it's more like a wall than a tree when you're sitting against one.

Pheonix had just hopped into my lap when I heard the most awful screaming yowl, and it wasn't just one, it was yowl after yowl. At first I thought one of my kitties was hurt, badly, and I jumped to my feet, (despite Pheonix's disgruntled protest) and looked around the tree down toward home and street. Had a bad driver finally done what I'd always feared?

No. There was little Maggie with giant scared eyes, standing at the bottom of the hill looking up. I usually take liesurely strolls with my cats, so I can kep an eye out and make sure no one gets lost. Plus there is a LOT to sniff, and listen to, and we like to enjoy the forest unhurried. This time, though, I hadn't even realized Maggie was outside and wanted to come with me. She was left behind, and so unhappy about it that she cried out at the top of her lungs for me.

I called out to her, and her pointy ears were like homing missiles. As soon as she saw me heading toward her, she toned down to her usual tiny mews. I felt pretty darn loved. I didn't realize how much I'm her safety. You would think the fact that she sleeps next to my head every night might have tipped me off. In fact, when it's bed time, I call her and she comes running, settling into the corner between my pillow and the wall. Then Sebastian curls up at my feet. Then Lilly stretches out along my side. And then I can't move for the rest of the night lest I disturb anyone. And my chest swells with so much happiness I can hardly breathe.

Pheonix, meanwhile, prefers the fishtank, but he gets his snuggle time on hikes. Also when ever I catch him napping and he looks so darn cute I have to squeal and pet him. Hmmm, which is a lot of the time. You think he's working an angle?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pheonix: Smarter than Western Medicine?

Pheonix is setting a good example for me, following the doctor's orders to take it easy for at least a week. No, the Doc didn't say to find a nice box to curl up in. It was no shooting hoops or lifting heavy things. I don't think Pheonix has EVER done heavy lifting, but he does his job. His job being to be cute and my buddy and a character, in return for love, love, and food and cardboard boxes and some more food.

Also, I wasn't supposed to lift my arm above shoulder height. So I was in a tough position. I had to go to work so I could resign, but I couldn't work. I couldn't bring myself to stay out on sick leave AND quit, because to me it seemed like that would be giving no notice at all. Then there is the matter of rent, and actual days needed for packing (oh boy). I have already paid my last month's rent, but I have to give thirty days notice, which means I have to do it at the start of the month. I want at the very least 2 weeks not working to pack, clean, and move, because working full time and moving is just not fun.

The ibuprofin didn't work. I tried to grit my teeth and bear it, but when Bosslady showed up around eight that day I had to tell her I couldn't work. I ended up needing two weeks to recover, and wasn't back at work until January 29th. I guess I could have given notice then, but I just felt like I'd be cutting it too close- I would still have the two weeks to move at the end of Febuary, but then life tossed in a couple more dilemmas.

My sub left. The office is now shorthanded.

The union unexpectedly reached an agreement on a new contract, throwing an emergency evaluation session into play. This is where every aspect of our job is scrutinized and a new salary is assigned. Sounds good right? Except the last two times, we got pay cuts, and this coming evaluation, sceduled for feb 23rd- march 7th, is gearing up to be the worst pay cut yet. I am so glad I never joined the union. I still have to take the contracts they negotiate, but I don't have to pay them for the reaming. It's several hundred dollars a year and I just don't find that appealing.

The most difficult curveball has been Clarence disapearing again. I am pretty sure he's alive, and doing well somewhere out in the world, but I wanted to make absolute sure he wasn't coming back before I leave. I have scoured the neighborhood for him, but no sign. The only way I refrain from crying all day every day for him is by thinking about him only in hopeful terms. Hoping he's happy, and safe and warm, and hoping that just maybe he'll come back one last time. The thought of him coming back to an empty house has definitely hindered my leaving.

I think it's time now. I'll help my office through the evaluation so they won't feel the pinch of two less employees. I'm able bodied again, thank goodness. And I raised a strong young kitty able to do well in the world on his own, free to live the life he chooses. March 8th I turn 29, and it will be my first day of freedom. My first day of a new year, a new life. I'll hit the road with trailer in tow march 30th. Until then, though, I think I will follow Pheonix's example, and find a place to curl up and dream. At least on the weekends.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Good News ...?

I'm interrupting my gripping tale of job resignation to share this breaking news: my landlord sent me a text message. I guess when your voicmail is full that's what people have to do. Anyway, it said, "Hi, it's your landlord. I have good news. Call me".

Ponder that for a second. What could possibly be good news, from a landlord to a tenant? "Hey, I won the lottery, I'm giving you the cabin". Whoah, okay that's a bit ridiculous, ha ha sorry. I am guessing it's more like, "Hey, I just realized that studios rent for less than you pay AND the utilities are included! Plus they have double pane windows and -" okay now I'm perching on the edge of bitter. Kind of like when I wish the company vehicle had anti-lock brakes.

I know, it's a choice to live in the second most expensive county in the U.S. of A. Which is why I'm leaving. I finally got the guts to at least broach the subject with my coworkers (Bosslady being thankfully absent). I posed it in the form of what if. "Do you think I should move to AZ to chase my dreams and see what else this world has to experience?" I tried to sound nonchalant but my nervous tone possibly betrayed me.

The funny thing is, after having listened to them proclaim time after time that "this is the best job in the universe", I thought they would be colectively discouraging. ("Better than being a professional athlete?" I would counter. "Better than being paid to scuba dive off the coast of Madagascar, taking pictures of coral reefs?" I knew a guy who actually did that, for National Geographic.) To my pleasant suprise, my colleagues took my question under serious consideration. The vote was fairly quick, and it was unanimus. Yes.

Now, I don't actually expect or desire or think I deserve to be handed anything on a silver platter, despite my lottery mention. I know that work is part of life, whether you enjoy or despise the particular job you do. It's just that, after having no electricity for two days for reasons that had nothing to do with weather or tree branches or other acts of nature, I'm ready for good news to really be good news. So why do I feel so full of dread?

P.S. I'm making breakfast now and thought this was a really pretty egg. :)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Damp is conducive to mushrooms and unfancy footwork.

It was the weekend. I had just finished a long overdue blog post and I felt pleasantly full, like I'd just had fresh brewed coffee with a dollop of ice cream in it. Maybe I did. I was ready to go counter my fatty indulgence with a hike with my furry loved ones. I can see it so painfully slow now, as I traversed the porch, my high pitched conversation with my kitties turned down to a deep, low, slow-motion drawl. Each step minutes long before my foot rests and my weight shifts, the other foot taking its steady turn at brief flight before connecting with the ground and accepting it's turn at the burden of weight bearing, the cycle beginning anew.

Okay, I'm just kidding. It actually happened so fast that all I remember was being at the top of the stairs one second, and flat on my back at the bottom of them the next. Speaking of bottom, boy did mine hurt. It hurt more than my arm at that point, though not as much as my ego. Luckily my flaming blush was witnessed only by cats who, let's admit, always think we're doing weird things anyway and aren't going to do more than cock their head sideways at you when you make a fallen spectacle of yourself. I disentangled my arm from the railing, the railing that certainly didn't stop my fall but, come to think of it, maybe did save my skull by grabbing my arm and keeping my head up just enough to not crack it a good one.

I got up as quick as I could, adrenaline jackhammering in my ears, and did a body check. Nothing seemed broken. Maybe the blush regulator, I think that was stuck in overdrive. I felt sore and silly, which is always surviveable. However, as the night wore on, I started to feel like I'd been in a car wreck. I hope you have never been in one, but if you have you know it's always worse the next day. And indeed, lo and behold, I couldnt even move my arm next morning. Well, I COULD. But I think if you're crying when you're trying to wash your hair, umm- don't wash your hair.

In fact, don't go to work right? Wrong. It's a mix of boss fear and "weakness" guilt that makes me hate to call in sick, so I had my Honey braid my hair for me (he did a better job than I do, too!) and even tie my shoes for me. Yes, somehow I thought once the 4 ibuprofin kicked in, I'd be able to power out a work day. At a job where I use my arms the ENTIRE eight hours. Lifting things. Dumbass. What exactly would it take? And more importantly, how could I resign AND call in sick? Off to work I went.

Oh yes, see, the mushrooms are illustrating how damp it is here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Random Chance pushes Lady Luck aside

Driving to work when it's starting to get light out is so much nicer than driving to work before the sun even thinks about getting up. I really don't think it's fair that the sun gets to hit the snooze button longer than me. I don't care if life's not fair, it should be a rule- the sun gets up first! And yes, I'm still driving to work. See, I have sunday and monday off, and the monday that I wrote about the adventures of trestle walking and job resigning, fate stepped in. Wait, I don't believe in fate. Random chance stepped in.

Actually, random chance stepped in the previous friday, when I was heading to work, admiring the sunrise. The captivating beauty of the sky calmed me that morning, because I had originally intended FRIDAY to be the day I resigned. All my fears and agonizing and stressing and hemming and hawing over every tiny detail of the massive decision to start a new life had culminated in a night of insomnia. When I came out of the thick forest and into the dawn I felt suddenly at peace with my choice, I even felt a quiet strength. My doubt became hope.

And then my boss wasn't at work.

I had this letter all nicely printed up and folded into careful thirds (thats hard, ya know):

To my Bosslady, I am resigning. Please consider this my three week notice, february 1st being my last day. I feel lucky to have had this job and regret that I must leave. I wish you and everyone here the best- I will miss the comraderie.
Sincerely, Me

Okay, I don't know how "professional" that is or anything, but it took me five drafts to get that. And then, since she wasn't there I wasn't going to work with her until tuesday. So, fine, I'd have to rewrite it and change the dates and it would be a 2 and a half week notice instead of three, etc. So be it. Except then Mr. Random Chance doesn't just step in, (yes, I'm making it masculine since Luck is a Lady) no, Mr. RC YANKS the rug out from under me. Or, more literally, the stairs. The slick painted, wet all winter, no tread on them stairs. Ouch.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Forgive Me

O.. M... G.... I know, I am so bloody fired. Hmm, I wish that were literal. Ack, sooooo much has happened, so much to explain, but I can't do it without pretty pictures heehee! Let's just say that as much as we might think we can control our lives... we really can't. Love and misses, back soon, Hermitgrrl