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There is a Big Thing due at work next week.
Naturally, this means I have barely started it, and am procrastinating with everything I can … even other work. Actually, that is not fair to me. The other work doesn’t stop and needs to get done, so it doesn’t really count as procrastinating.
The first plan included me working on the Big Thing over break. Well, last semester required a bit of recovery, and we all saw here that break had its ups and downs that required their own bit of energy.
The second plan included me getting the Big Thing done, or at least started, during the first week of classes. Well, the year that started out with such promise, quickly said, “No. Here’s your first major hurdle.” Oh, and by the way, that Todoist plan you have for what is going to get done this week, nope. Instead, you can have a minor work crisis to deal with.
At the end of last week, I mapped out a totally reasonable plan for getting the big thing done by the end of this week. I even put it in my Todoist! And, I still didn’t follow the plan. The good news is, I’m pretty sure I’ll still be okay, even with my Saturday in the ‘Boro trip. Today, I used Coffitivity and Pomodoro to get at least a good hour and a half of work done on the Big Thing. Of course, now I am rewarding myself with
more procrastination, I mean writing this blog post.
Did you catch that? The fact that the year isn’t even a month old yet, and already there are challenges. Yeah, I know I am not the only one. It is just that this week seems bent on twisting the knife from last week. I know, deep breaths, patience, I will get through it. Oh, and maybe I could start the post already, right?
One of my new friends at work goes out of town ALL THE TIME. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but 2-3 weekends a month is not, not at all. Given my propensity to revel in the fact that these days I often come home on Friday, put on yoga pants, and see how long I can make it without leaving the house. You can imagine we have a lot of jokes about it, about being afraid to stand still, about patience, about always chasing new things, about me hibernating, being a little afraid of new things. You get the idea. One of the things my friend likes to do is go camping and hiking, which is cool because I invariably get to see the awesome pictures, and hear about the adventure.
In fact, it was my friend’s beautiful pictures that finally encouraged me to put aside my fear of the ticks and snakes and figure out where the trail next to my house led. I’m really happy I did because now, as I think I have mentioned before, I try to walk my trails around the lake at least once a week, weather permitting. The result is a contrast that I find interesting, because whenever my friend sends me pictures of new hiking trips I usually end up sending back pictures from my walks around the lake. All this is interesting because I think it captures a little of our joking. My friend chasing new views, new locations; and me, re-visiting the same place observing the changes. There is probably a lesson there for both of us, but I’m not ready to think to0 hard about it.
Today, another snow storm hit this area. After heading down to work for a couple of hours, I just barely made it home before it really started coming down. As I paced the house, knowing I needed to sit down and work on the Big Thing, and really NOT wanting to do it. I looked out the window at this, amazing for this part of the world, snow fall. Big, wet, fluffy flakes were falling like something out of a movie. I realized I was still pretty bundled up for work, so I threw on hat, scarf, and a good coat, and took off for my trail. I couldn’t make it all the way around the lake because the trail was a little too wet, but what I saw was magical.
First the little tiny creek, which is the first little bridge I cross when entering my trail. The pictures don’t really capture the snow falling, but it was breath taking. I live in town, so even though my walks around the lake give me the feeling of being in the woods because there are no houses around, I can almost always here traffic noises. Today, though, because of the snow almost everyone was off the roads and the woods were intensely peaceful.
Then there was my bridge. Yes, I call it my bridge. Like I said, since I found it I try to walk around the lake at least once a week, and I almost always start out thinking about the walks as visits to the bridge. Think what you want, but y’all know the Anne of Green Gables is strong with me, and I am prone to the personification of inanimate things. There are benches in the covered portion of my bridge, and when it is nice enough out there, I even bring my journal to sit and write. I’m hopeless.
Today, I walked across my bridge, marring that pristine snow, and looking back to marvel at my footprints. On my way over, I stopped to look back towards the city park at one end of the lake, and watched the ducks and geese swimming around in the snow. On my way back, the snow had intensified, and I turned in the other direction. Facing into the snow, feeling it fall and catch in my eye-lashes and on my nose, I marveled at the wonder and peace of it all.
Yes, the year already has a bump in it. The hardest kind of bump for me, actually, but whatever drew me out for a walk in the snow knew what I needed to see. The familiar made strange. The way the seasons shift. I began walking my bridge in October, as you can see from the first view above. The trees were changing colors, but the paths were still rich with vegetation. I watched those leaves complete their changes and fall, revealing the beauty of the bamboo and other undergrowth that remained green long into December. You might not be able to see it in the first picture, but my bridge undulates. It is full of warps. The snow covers over them all, but they are still there.
On the way back, as I stood there, a line from Watership Down came to me. When Bigwig (Thlayli in the book’s version of Lapine) is trying to escape with does from Efrafa, there is a massive storm with thunder and lighting. Unsure of where his friends are, trying to lead a pack of unfamiliar rabbits, and knowing that pursuit is not far behind, he is at a loss when he senses a message “It’s your storm Thlayli-rah, use it.”
Outside of the peace I felt, the happiness at being outside, at getting to witness something not many people will see, I am not sure how to “use” this snow storm. Standing on my bridge, watching the snow fall, listening to the quiet, just breathing, I realized I needed that. I needed a minute away from the pressure of the bumps, of the Big Thing hanging over me and shadowing everything I do. I needed the reminder that things change, and that sometimes we can only see that when we visit the same place over time.
Recent events led me to think about how much my life has changed in the last three years. Last week I completed my first ever submission review for a journal. Since graduating in May, I think it was one of the first activities to make me really feel like a professional. Yes, there have been other moments, but in many ways I’d settled back to live as usual, so I’d stop feeling the wonder of actually being finished.
The other day I went to the library to pick up a book for a new project. I pulled out my school ID card and, before putting it back, actually looked at the picture. The picture has always been a little dorky. The day before I started work Ouiser’s cat scratched my eye lid, so I had an extra bag or two under one eye. Also, for some reason I wore my hair in a way that I almost never did.
It’s hard to get a decent picture of a picture of an ID card, but I think you get the point. Looking at that picture I was struck by the thought it was taken only three years ago. In many ways the last three years have felt like ten. I hardly recognize this picture.
For comparison, here’s a picture of me from today. It’s my post-hair cut selfie in the car.
The change is more than just the Ph.D. or the haircut. I probably can’t really explain it, because it is all of that and more. It’s the Ph.D., the hair, the tattoo, and even my willingness to take and post after haircut selfies. All of which are probably just expressions of how I’ve become more comfortable with myself.
In keeping with the random subject matter here, how about an ode to my diner. Well, not an actual ode, but a loving tribute. Although it’s supposed to warm up again this week, the weather here has finally turned a little chilly. I’m excited because suddenly all the dishes that just seemed to hot and heavy for summer sound just about perfect. Tonight we are finally going to return to our favorite winter stand by – TaterTot Hot Dish.
Trust me this dish is certainly nothing special, but both the DH (dear, dastardly, dimwitted -pick your adjective husband) love it. I think you had to grow up in Minnesota in the ’70s to have an appreciation for any kind of hot dish. When I was 10 and we moved from Minnesota to Washington State I realized that the rest of the U.S. calls a hotdish a casserole. The hotdish has endless forms Tuna Noodle (with or without potato chips on top), Chicken noodle, rice with sausage, my mom would even make Spam hotdish.
Tater Tot is by far the best. Brown some hamburger with onions (drain it), and pour into the bottom of a rectangular baking dish, then poor a can, or bag of frozen, corn over it. Over the corn put a can of cream of mushroom soup, and on top of everything a layer of TaterTots. Throw everything in the oven (350) for long enough to cook the TaterTots through (20-30 mn) . It is just a good warm, cold night dinner.