Monday, April 6, 2009

Walking After Midday

B&c returned from Atlanta sometime Saturday evening. It may have been late, but I'm not sure because I didn't get home from the office until after 11. Usually he calls me when he gets home from a trip, but he didn't this time. Some people (i.e., men) ignore small details like this while others (i.e., women and gay men) ascribe great meaning to them. So if you like, you can assume that his not calling me to say he was home is indicative of the imminent collapse of our relationship. That's a much more interesting explanation than the actual explanation, and I always say that you should never let the facts get in the way of a good story. (The real reason, in case you're keeping score, was either a) he didn't want to risk my grumpiness by calling me at the office on a Saturday evening, or b) he was annoyed at me for eating all of the Cheez-Its. I meant to replace the Cheez-Its on my way home Saturday night, but the supermarkets had already closed. Yeah, I know, but that's about the closest we get to drama at the Chez TED. I told you the fictional explanation was more interesting. I blame Hemingway.)

When I got home, after we established my guilt in the disappearance of the Cheez-Its (The Disappearance of the Cheez-Its was the horribly unsuccessful sequel to The Silence of the Lambs. I blame Jodie Foster.), we had a very brief conversation:
TED: How was the trip?
B&c: Oh, fine.
TED: How's your grandson?
B&c: Very cute. But he wants to sleep all day and then stay up all night.

I'm almost certain that I spoke in all caps. I have trouble moderating my emotions and my behavior when I'm exhausted. It's a shame: the humor was obliterated by the delivery.

Sunday morning, I slept until almost 8:30 (woohoo!) and then headed into the office. When I was getting dressed, b&c actually asked me what plans I had for the day. I gave him my witheringest stare, and he said, "Oh, you're going to work?" I just sighed and went downstairs. I have not learned all that much about relationships, but I have learned that it is almost never a good idea to say "Duh!" to your partner, even when he deserves it. And it's not that hard to forbear: I have clients calling me all the time at this time of year, and they always ask whether I'm busy. Then they laugh at me. Hey, did I mention that you owe $75,000 with your extension? NOT SO FUNNY NOW IS IT? Don't worry, I don't actually say that last bit: I never use all caps with clients.

I knew I was in for a long day at the office, so I brought my camera with me so I could take a short walk and some pictures in the afternoon. You can see why I rarely bother taking my own pictures. With digital cameras and photo editing programs, I can usually get a serviceable record of what I saw, but I have no eye. Plus, I find taking pictures while I'm out for a walk to be very disruptive to my interior monologue which feeds on the rhythm of steps. Stopping to take pictures forces me to look at things, though, and that's probably good for me. It's not that I'm not aware of my surroundings when I'm walking, it's more that I have only an atmospheric perception. Stopping to take a picture makes me notice details that would otherwise fade into the background. Both modes of perception are valuable. But the walking is very seductive, I rarely remember my camera, and it's just easier to find better pictures on Flickr. I blame Al Gore.

It was Palm Sunday, so when I walked by the Catholic church across the street from my office, I saw a few parishioners walking away with greenery, but mostly I was looking at the tulip trees and the flowering cherries and the daffodils. My favorite daffodils, though, are the ones in my office window. We each get a bunch sometime around March 15th, and I usually keep mine, in one form or another, all summer. Even after the stems are dried up and discarded, the dessicated flowers retain some of their color. Daffodils that are blooming are heartbreaking, really: they're beautiful, but you know they're only going to be beautiful for a very short period of time. The tulip trees are glorious, but there are already petals all over the ground, and the forsythia are halfway through turning from yellow to green. But my more experienced daffodils will stay in their semi-decayed but still pleasing condition for a long time. It's easier still to appreciate them if you think of them as somewhat wistful for what was theirs for only a moment. There's a fairly obvious analogy here, but I won't bother to draw it for you. And I don't expect most people to agree with my perspective. After all, a lot of my co-workers come into my office and ask why I haven't thrown away my dried-up daffodils, and they all think I'm odd when I say that I prefer them this way.

And it may be nothing more than a coping mechanism, anyway. When you can't get outside to enjoy the most fertile moments of spring, it's probably easier to try not to want to. Which is not to say that all is misery. March is really the hardest month. The first days of April are very intense, but they bring the realization that the end is near. (And certain: tax deadlines are not like software or movie releases. When you get to April 15, everything's either been filed or extended.) And even when I'm very focused on the task at hand, my subconscious -- trained over many years -- knows that relief is not far away, and little shoots of giddiness begin to push out of the soil of despair. It's unwise to smile at moments like these, but I can funnel the glee into my walk: a spring in my step is not easily distinguishable from panic-driven running from one task to the next.

Anyway, I had a pleasant walk, and then I worked for another seven hours. I really only meant to post a few pictures and say that I had a pleasant walk, but I get typing, and I just can't stop myself. I blame my mother for letting me use her IBM Selectric when I was just a wee lad. I taught myself to type, and there's been no stopping me ever since.

When I finally got home Sunday night, I had another conversation with b&c, who had been in Baltimore at the BSO, listening to yet another performance of a Mahler symphony (Yo! Enough with the Mahler, already. In the last few years, I've heard the First thrice, the Ninth twice, the Eighth, and the Sixth, and probably at least one more. All in the DC-Baltimore area. Play some Mozart or Beethoven or something.)

TED: How was the symphony?
B&c: Oh, it was fine, but it was long.
TED: How long?
B&c: Well, they went right from the Bernstein to the Mahler, with no intermissions, so it was about an hour and a half.
TED: Excuse me?
B&c: What?
TED: Ninety minutes?
B&c: Yeah, but without intermission.
B&c: Stop using all caps.
TED: Try again. Nobody's going to believe you actually said that. You're not that clever.
B&c: You're bitchy when you're tired.
TED: I blame Ronald Reagan.
B&c: What?
TED: Can we get back to what you actually said?
B&c: Sure, what was the last thing you actually said?
TED: "You're complaining about ninety minutes?"
B&c: With Wagner, one act is ninety minutes, and then you get an intermission; it's different.
TED: Right, after you've been through ninety minutes, you still have to go through the same thing two more times.
B&c: Well, I suppose that's one way to look at it.
TED: What's the other way?

He seemed to lose interest in the conversation after that. I blame Marin Alsop.

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