"Good morning," I rolled over to greet Chienne this morning as I slowly emerged from sleep. Instead of the slow, sad blink she has offered the past few days, I ended up with arms full of wriggling canine while she placed kisses on my nose and chin.
"Oh," I offered, nuzzling closer and beginning to cry a little even as I tried to keep her tongue out of my mouth. "There's my girl." I smoothed her coat and told her I loved her and realized I missed this. While it's sometimes annoying - being tackled by an exuberant dog when I've just awakened - it was one of those moments that struck me as completely lovely after being absent for several days.
She pranced when I returned from work and shopping this afternoon. She carried a ball to me - I don't get to throw it, but I may look at it while she keeps it proudly between her teeth. I think she's feeling much better.
"I don't mind," I've always said of being tested on our equipment, "but I don't particularly like it." But as demands grow increasingly intense and I find myself walking through dimly lit hallways late at night or over weekends more and more often, I'm increasingly content to play guinea pig.
"You are OK?" I nodded in response to my European colleague's question, realizing that I had also grown used to the cadence of her speech. It no longer took me a moment to mentally replay a sentence to fully understand it.
As I shifted in the dim light during testing, finding a comfortable position and reminding myself to relax, I realized that I underestimate the capability of me and mine. Chienne will eventually go blind in her right eye and be completely unable to see. I will at some point get pushed past my breaking point at work. But both of us will make adjustments and adapt to our new circumstances.
"You do not mind?" I shook my head in response to her question, inviting her again to join me at Target after we grabbed lunch. We'd finished our work and I'd make a quick call to Adam to offer firm suggestions of what needed to happen to make work more bearable for our team. He's been out of the office and people are taking shameless advantage. I have decided I do not approve. Though, as always, I felt better after speaking with him.
"It's pretty much like all the others," I offered when she said she hadn't been there before.
"I've never been to them either," she explained, making me blink at her in surprise, pausing in my quest to obtain a bright red cart. At lunch, she spoke of her longing for the sea, the lack of chain restaurants in her region at home and how America was different than Italy. Yet it still surprised me that she would walk through Target for the first time. I quickly altered my 'grab Diet Coke, dog and cat food and head home' to meander through aisles as she explored.
"They have everything," she breathed as we stopped almost immediately to look at candles. She exclaimed over the sizes and colors and scents, all available and aligned neatly on shelves. I nodded, attempting to look suitably impressed while she showed me all the choices. We repeated the experiment in bedding - she found a new comforter after I reminded her of how we name bed sizes. (I don't know why twin is the smallest. I suppose it should fit two people. Technically, depending on the position of the pair, it actually would.) Then again in luggage - we evaluated carry-ons and backpacks. And once more in bedding when we returned to make absolutely sure she had what she wanted.
Thinking her adorable, I pushed the cart containing my dog and cat food, Diet Coke and new suitcase while she carried her new bedclothes and a small bag with candles inside. She reached to kiss my cheek before we parted, telling me to pass the gesture along to my puppy. While I took this job based on location, salary and opportunity, I'll reiterate that I did beautifully with colleagues.
Remember Pete? Of the 'told me I couldn't defend mere weeks before my defense date even though I had job offers and was ready to leave' fame?
He did it again.
Despite my warnings, students seem to think such a thing couldn't happen to them. A former group member put that waste of a human being on her committee and rather than calling it off early, he decided her work wasn't good enough and convinced the committee to fail her at her presentation. Which leaves me utterly disgusted with all of them.
Knowing that he feels justified in these actions leaves me furious. This asshole must be stopped and while considerable thought leaves me unable to devise a suitable plan, I may see him in a couple of weeks while I travel on business. Let the plotting commence.
When I was small, I had a plastic cup with a cartoon of some sort printed on the side. I would carefully drink my milk or juice from said cup while I sat at Grandma's sunny kitchen table, often watching the squirrels balance on the wires near the alley. If I grew bored of the bushy-tailed creatures, I would examine the image on my cup, noticing that the character - who was also sitting at a table with his own cup - had the same picture as I did on his own cup. Therefore, with the proper resolution, I assumed that the picture on the character's cup also contained another cup with another picture of another cup. And now - if you followed that - I totally blew your mind. (If you didn't, you'll have to trust me.)
A glimpse into the infinite is at once fascinating and boring. For I sat and stared at that cup for long moments, wondering what stopped a loop from looping and how many characters could continue to have cups with the same pictures on the sides. But when Grandma and I sat to talk about it, the conversation at some point comes to "Yes, Katie. That would be a lot of cups, sweetheart." And there you have it.
So goes, for me, any discussion of writing online. I do more than my fair share of blogging about blogging - and have put additional thought into the concept while I wasn't actively writing and in the week I've been back - but, once finished, I look around, beaming with pride and announce, "I noticed that! Aren't I observant and sensitive and clever?!" And some of you are kind enough to smile at me and reply, "Yes, Katie. But it's all rather obvious, sweetheart." Then I give us all a break and toddle off for a nap.
The one message I will reiterate is that being away made me recognize what a source of comfort and support is available here. I very much appreciate the comments and emails and gift card (from ScienceWoman and Princess Pup - totally made me cry) while Chienne and I struggled through this week. When I heard about Pete and remembered how I tentatively started posting years ago and think about how much I've learned from and grown to love many of you, the awe I feel is not unlike staring into the infinite on the side of a plastic cup.
In a good way. In case that wasn't clear.