Midnight Rendezvous (100-Word Challenge)

@bikurgurl‘s weekly “100 Word Challenge” – Week 4 – with the accompanying image (photo credit: Andreas P., Unsplash) as inspiration (pinging back to @bikurgurl blog page)!

…and on we go!


xn_crzwxgdm-andreas-pGirl, did you get a glimpse of Naomi? Word throughout the glen is that she was seen crossing the meadow just before sunrise, her lips stained deep, her breath heavy and hot, mixing with the crisp morning air – she looked like a derailed iron horse, heading straight for the water! By the time I made it through the trees and down the hill to see her emerge from the brook, all evidence of her midnight escapades were dripping from her coat in tiny, silent droplets. That doe can’t seem to keep herself away from those wild blackberries, thorns or not!



Buoy-ful Meal Presentation (30-word Thursday Challenge)

This photo was taken in Favorite Channel near Juneau, Alaska, while on a whale-watching expedition (2015). The island in the background  – Shelter Island – is locally known for having a significant number of bear per square mile.

. . . .


Set adrift with no hope; for the water is teeming with leviathan, nudging their calves through the art of the hunt and thick, grizzled bruins gnash their teeth just beyond the timberline.

. . . .

SECRETS (100-word challenge)

This week’s 100-word challenge, as hosted by @bikurgurl , includes the photo above – one of her very own (photo credit: @bikurgurl 2015)!

Here’s my submission – “SECRETS”

. . . .

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul; however, I am both in awe and perplexed at how you, my fiendish friend, with your steely glare and triumphantly narrow myopic view, manage to possess a world of wonder and beauty beyond a stare of such cold, hard permanence. Light escapes in fragments – shards and offcasts of what once was whole – only to demonstrate your unwillingness to set free any true components of measurable majesty. Why do you lock such azure brilliance away? What tortures you so, deep within your troubled soul, my fiendish friend, that you imprison the heavens?

. . . .

Short Circuit

Poison or a firing squad?

No cell service or a dead cell phone battery?

A shoebox apartment in the city near work with astronomical rent prices or room to stretch out with an hour-long commute?

An inescapable bad date or no date?       bad-date

Choosing between the lesser of two “evils” – never a fun task! And truly, how often is the choice really something we get to actually make, instead of the decision being out of our hands but ours to bear regardless?

…well, I guess we can decide to stay holed up in our tiny little apartment, refusing to take chances on meeting new people for fear of encountering whiny, un(der)educated, hyper-sensitive, self-obsessed, unemployed individuals who freak out when you use the word “friend” instead of being instantly “in love” and fully committed to romantic attachments within 12 hours of making their acquaintance, but I digress…

What I’m talking about are the real-life situations we’re presented with, where neither outcome is a bed of roses, and the choice is unfortunately not yours to make.


kraken-antiqueResolution-making aside, ‘January’s are traditionally difficult in my line of work; this has been a particularly rough one. I’ve been battling several different illnesses since the 2nd day of 2017, which makes things challenging: a quick bout of laryngitis, followed by a sinus infection with the grip hold of the Kraken! I feel as if I’ve been walking around with my head under water for two weeks! The sweet aroma of new beginnings does not fill my nasal passages – cotton packing coated with rubber cement does! But I’ve been through wicked infections before, and survived. Even with mangled sinus cavities, narrowed by scar tissue from a previous surgery, I’ve come out the other side still intact. This week, though, it was as if every force in nature wanted to see me flat on my tookus!

So I can’t breathe properly; so what of it? Been there, done that! So I have to work 12-hour days while not being able to breathe properly – you’re talking to the girl who worked half-days while going through radiation treatment (disclaimer: NOT recommended!! I was incredibly foolish, and harbored way too much self-imposed obligation)! Bring. It. On. So when the doctor’s office calls in the middle of the day to tell you that what should have been routine laboratory blood tests came back dangerously abnormal, I should be able to keep it together, right? You bet your sweet cherry cheesecake I did! For a whole day and a half, I put on the BEST performance of my life!

That fateful day, I was instructed to go back to the lab after work, and have another test done, to verify the results of the initial “abnormal” reading. THREE blood draws later ended in THREE confirmations of the “abnormal” results. Completely stunned and suffering from a severe sucker-punch to the gut, I somehow managed to fumble my way from the lab facility to the market, blindly to the pharmacy, then home to cook dinner for the household. Eating was by rote, and I recall retiring early that evening – I felt like there was nothing more I could do; any effort otherwise would result in further damage of some sort!

The next day, I casually played the role of “hey, it’s me”, while burdened with strict “dos” and “don’ts” from the doctor, wanting desperately to scream, cry, and drown my fears and frustrations in Cake Batter frozen yogurt with rainbow sprinkles (don’t judge)! Instead, payrolls were processed, tax forms were prepared, payments were received, and invoices were issued, all without anyone being the wiser. All while inside I was frantic to know why my body was suddenly short-circuiting!

Finally, Doctor-Visit-Day! Things that morning were still pear-shaped, which baffled the doctors (yes, now more than one doctor was on-board with the treatment protocol) and led to heightened anxiety. Before cozying my toosh in the clinical environment, though, I had to be “hey, it’s me” for a few hours, and as if the Kraken sinus infection wasn’t enough to deal with, the client engagement I had that morning decided to throw me a curve ball – a nationally-recognized personnel firm making a Grand Canyon-sized mistake on the financial documents of the company’s two owners! Really? Today?! Gaw!!


Can you say “PANIC ATTACK”? I knew you could!

Anyway, off to the doc’s…

After a long discussion (and I admit, a few tears shed in the solitude of the doctor’s office), we’ve come to the conclusion that the most viable reasons for such rapid changes and rare abnormalities are these: either my pancreas has decided to call it quits (or has been harvested by aliens while I was sleeping…) or the resident “big bully booger” (aka brain tumor I’ve been hosting rent-free since 2008) has finally awakened from its slumber to wreak havoc on my endocrine system. So which is the better option? Ummm, neither, thank you very much!

Look, I can live with knowing I have an inoperable growth inside my head. Heck, I’ve been doing that for over 8 years now! Sure, it’s a crazy thing to say: I have a brain tumor. But, I know that I’m one of the lucky ones! My tumor is non-malignant, and slow-growing. Sure, it comes with side effects: headaches, constant ringing in my ears, GH deficiency, thyroid issues, and the inability to regulate body temperature to name a few, but these are minor inconveniences once you get used to them. However, if the tumor is growing, that can be an issue! It’s precariously close to the optic nerves, and maniacally embracing the internal carotid artery (thus the reason it’s deemed “inoperable”). Additional growth is not a good thing! Blindness is not a good thing; artery strangulation is not a good thing…

On the flip side, I’m not in the mood to have yet another system in my body go caput! I don’t know too much about pancreatic function, but I’m starting to get the impression that it’s pretty darned important (and maybe a little fickle, or maybe that’s just me)! Two of my doctors consulted and decided to do a severe change-up with my medications, STAT! I’m still supposed to adhere to strict “dos” and “don’ts” until more information has been gathered about the status of the tumor (MRI has already been performed; just waiting on report now), and begin living as if my pancreas is on hiatus…



I don’t get to choose firing squad or poison. My choice, however, is to keep on keeping on, despite the diagnosis

in spite of the diagnosis!


UPDATE: MRI results – tumor is stable! Yay! So, now it’s off to investigate who authorized the vacation request for my pancreas, and check every possible travel manifest between the vocal chords, the left big toe, and Tahiti to figure out where that darned thing took off to! I need it back at its post, up and functioning properly – STAT!

100 Word Challenge

Okay, so this is new for me… I caught sight of this on a few other blogs and thought it worthwhile! Basically, anything to get writing again! (I just hope I do all the linking/pinging correctly!)

@bikurgurl hosts a weekly “100 Word Challenge”, where participants are given an image (above, photo credit: saksham gangwar, unsplash) and challenged to write +/-100 words, using the image as inspiration. Hopefully, this link has been added appropriately, pinging back to @bikurgurl blog page!

…and on with the show…


It saddened me so to witness such separation. The impending expiration of the day’s warm sunshine only added to the dismal circumstance. In unison, as if invisibly bound and guided by one life-force, the gaggle of seabirds took to the sky. A chorus of movement in perfect harmony with the melody of the ocean’s rhythmic waves, the flock flittered to and fro, as if coaxing the silent notes from their rest in the wet sand. Alas, the two remained. In a final effort to persuade complete union, I allowed my own two feet to take to flight. Fly; be free.  

Unique Boutique

I inquisitively peered beyond the façade today, and for a moment, felt my heart sink. Despite a presentable (at least I have been under the impression it was pleasing) storefront, I was awakened to disturbing details. Statistics… purely unhuman and infallibly cold calculations that do not consider ever being considerate, and stare back at the consumer, stone-faced but seemingly without malice or weapon, shattering dreams, hopes, aspirations, and tender hearts.

Twenty blog posts over the course of roughly twenty-two weeks (not counting this one). Over thirty followers now (and a most humble and sincere “thank you” to you all!!). But, in looking at my readership ratings, a most obvious and truly disheartening steady decline… My posting average still remains about 4 new blog posts per month; however, interest in what I am writing seems to have waned drastically. And I ponder if such significant lack of interest should predicate the captain’s call to abandon ship.

1425_3Now, of course, I could invoke the trusty ostrich philosophy, and bury my head in the sand, choosing to ignore the deafening silence played out in the melodic realism of the statistical evidence, as crystal clear and undisputable as any such findings. Conversely, I can fabricate rationalizations that support the finite statistics while leaving a glimmer of hope, such as: people have been busy with the timeliness of the holidays and all the effort, planning, preparation, and participation they entail, and leave blog-reading by the wayside. Another possibility is that some folks out there in the blogosphere, and beyond, suffer from the same two syndromes I too am burdened with: a reading disability that makes reading both incredibly difficult and time consuming (and after 10- to 12-hour workdays, eyes that just don’t want to focus anymore!), and simply, lack of free time to devote to pleasure reading! (I’ve been told that throughout the far reaches of the world, both ‘free time’ and ‘reading for pleasure’ are true events, and not merely works of fiction. I myself remain a skeptic; however, there is always opportunity for growth and a broadening of our understanding, right?)

Or, I can very well dim the illuminated open beckoning call, roll up the awning, shake the dust off the “welcome” mat, drop the window shades, and latch the doors secure amid a darkened dwelling place. Close up shop and proceed forward, or at least onward whatever the direction…


A possible detour (as is often the case in my life)? 

I’ve been visited time and again (translation: haunted) by this quickly-spoken inspirational gem of wisdom, thinking it merely a bobble of whimsy, refusing to consciously allow it to penetrate to the inner depths of my consciousness. Why? Because it tore at my desire to be a people-pleaser, confounded my need for justification, and dispelled fallacies that acknowledgment and edification from others were the only signs of success. I was raised to believe without the praises of others, the conjoined trumpeting of the masses, one was nothing short of invisible; I’ve spent my entire life being invisible, and I was hoping that through my writing, at least one wayward beam of light would rest upon me – not fame and fortune, per se, but a hiatus from utter invisibility.

Specialty stores. (Hang on; this is the same post – I didn’t get lost!) Specialty stores: those small retailers that cater to specific needs and individualistic clientele. A vendor that specializes in offering men a wonderful shaving experience. The clothier that caters to infants and toddlers. Proprietors of anime collectibles. Comic book stores. A vegan bakery and café. A boutique that celebrates the craftsmanship and one-of-a-kind handmade goods of local artisans near high-traffic tourist venues.

I think you’ve got the idea.

But, truly, what is the point, and how does it all relate? Good question. Excellent question!

Let me explain:
One thing that these specialty shops have in common is their disregard for total and complete domination. Yes, they may strive for market position priority (that’s the three business degrees talking…); however, they are intuitive enough to not waste time and resources entertaining the masses while facilitating focused niche markets and boutiques that cater to a select clientele. They, instead, revel in those customers that enter, admire, and welcome with genuine interest the findings that adorn the shelves, baskets, racks, and display cases behind unassuming doors, foregoing the over-commercialized, mass-marketed branding that befalls the majority of retail reality. And those proprietors, those purveyors of fine-found treasures treasure those that have found them! They greet their guests, not worried about those other hurried shoppers looking for items that simply don’t exist within their havens – the vegan baker really isn’t concerned with flagging down a brood of motley teens, snacking on corn dogs and soft pretzels, because she understands her energy is better utilized baking delectable treats for her clientele, and pleasing their palates, nor will the children’s clothier aspire to make those same teenagers frequent visitors to his shop, as they, without need for children’s clothing, will be more of a distraction for the shop owner, whose attention, and heart, are with those who have come to partake in the boutique’s uniqueness, with intent.

summer-sea-glass2Point being (listen, dear inner self!): understand that I am unique. Understand that what I offer is unique. Do not waste my energy and resources (translation: my emotions) trying to please the masses, when knowing full-well it is genuinely more rewarding to celebrate and treasure those that have found me to be a treasure without any benefit of over-commercialized, mass-marketed branding.

This is all a learning process – seeing myself as good enough, without outward confirmation – that is nowhere near its completion. I hope that by sharing my heart and my thoughts, some others may come to the same conclusion about themselves (even if it may only reach 30+ wonderful, caring individuals – nay, cherished guests! – gracious enough to be following this ‘specialty blog’).

Here’s to heart-satisfying and thought-provoking “retail therapy”!

Temporarily Permanent


What is it exactly?

By definition, perspective is “a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view”. (It can also be defined as “the art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point”, and although it is arguable that life is art, I won’t be addressing artistic perspective, per se, today.)

I find it interesting – nay, intriguing! – how perspective influences our opinion. Much like experiences having leverage and significant impact on the dimension of our focus (see post Finding Humanity in Winter), one’s perspective in direct relation to a situation not only predicates the response given, it often monopolizes it, regardless of any previous experience to the contrary. Basically, if we’re in the dark and darkness is all we see, it is unfathomable to see anything more than darkness despite having experienced ‘light’ and ‘bright’ in the past.

Extreme? Perhaps. But nonetheless not necessarily untrue.

Illustration: Think back to the last time you had a severe cold, or the flu (or, if not yourself, a loved one that you helped care for during that time). Day Two or Day Three into the experience, the wretchedness of sinus pressure, the shredding pain of broken glass shards tumbling down your constricted, raw throat with each swallow, feverish chills forcing you deep under the tonnage of fleece and woven cotton only to be marred by the beads of sweat on your brow, and the ripping ache throughout your joints, restricting fluid movement, draining every ounce of energy out of your listless frame. Even to partake in a cup of lemon chamomile tea with honey or bowl of chicken noodle soup is a monumental chore. You lay there, tissue in hand, dabbing your swollen, chapped nose and expel the simple words illuminating your current perspective, “this flu is killing me!”

But, wait!

You’ve had the flu before. And you’ve, well, survived… And, despite that present position, deep within the recesses of snuggle blankets and menthol throat lozenge wrappers, the predominant prognostication is that you, indeed, will again escape the clutches of Death in a week or so – with plenty of rest and clear fluids – but you can’t see beyond the mounting pile of discarded tissues, drawing on faded memory, to know that you will see the light of another day. Your feet will touch ground again, gleefully participating in retail therapy. Your tongue will relish in fantastical feasts and roaring repartee. And yes, your heart will languish in the thought of wasting another breath in the living tomb which is your office cubicle… But you don’t see that; you see death. You see permanence in the temporary – darkness in the midst of residing in the dark, casting aside the lucid remembrance of healthier days…

Point made?

So, how is it that we shake off this “permanence in the temporary”, and realize things for what they are – or what they could be? How do we change our perspective even if our circumstance has not changed? If the physicality of something remains the same, how do we redefine it?

Several of my current circumstances can easily lend to melancholy and the ambiance of defeat. That’s not to say that there aren’t times when I succumb to these jesters and lose sight of things beyond the temporary; however, as the past chapter’s song floats away on the evening breeze and providence crashes upon a new calendar year (Hello, 2017! Let’s be friends, shall we?), I’m determined to remain aware of my perspective, adjusting it as one would a manual camera lens, allowing in light and clarity of focus, distilling shortsightedness, and capturing inspiration, catapulting me through – beyond! – the darkness and into the warmth of glowing hope, where once before I drew breath.

Finding Humanity in Winter

Have you ever had the pleasure of teaching a youngster the fine art of whistling? How about attempting to communicate with an individual who speaks a completely different language? How would you convey to a blind person the magnificence and splendor, contour and texture, beauty and awe of clouds? Seemingly impossible tasks, wouldn’t you say? It’s hard to fathom things beyond our own narrow scope of reality. Without having relatable experiences, we are left with vague interpretations, frustrating abstractions, and a plethora of misunderstandings.

Winter is definitely upon us here in the US.  As is common, there are certain areas (ahem, I’m talking to you:  the southern ends of California, Arizona, and Texas; Hawaii; and the Florida panhandle) who refuse to participate, but as I survey my purplish-pinkish-blue fingertips, I can’t say I blame you! And it’s not like I haven’t been through a winter or two up here in the north end (it’s no Alaska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Maine), but sometimes, I’m just taken aback a little by the biting cold and reminded of my own personal vulnerabilities. It’s because of this that I was drawn to a new opportunity to help serve in a little yet profound capacity. And when describing this new venture to a family member back home (in a non-winter-participating location), I became aware of our simple short-sightedness in light of lack of experience.

In most large metropolitan cities, there are men’s and women’s shelters that are run continuously throughout the year, day in and day out. These facilities provide lodging and meals for those who are without the means to provide for themselves the basic needs of food and shelter. Regardless of how one ends up in such a situation, it’s a beautiful thing to know there are those who are willing to step in and bridge the gap, whether through monetary donations to keep the shelters up and running, through donations of food and supplies, or through donations of time, serving and developing relationships with those who walk through the doors of the facilities in need of assistance, in need of a hand up, in need of hope for tomorrow, in need of a sense of humanness in their lives. In colder climates, even in the midst of full-time shelters, there are what are referred to as “emergency cold weather shelters” that open in the event that the weather is forecasted to drop below freezing overnight. These are temporary locations set up within churches, businesses, and other community outreach organizations, coordinated through bands of volunteers for the express purpose of providing safe, hospitable shelter during unsafe, inhospitable weather – further bridging the gap and reaching out to a segment of the community most in need of compassion and warmth (both figuratively and literally).

As I became more acclimated to “winter” – read: temperatures below 50 degrees F – I had heard from time to time the mention of these “emergency cold weather shelters”, but was rather unfamiliar with them. Just this season, however, I had the opportunity to invest whole-heartedly into my community’s outreach program, and become a volunteer! There are actually three participating facilities within the city where I live that coordinate to make sure each day of the week is covered, if need-be. My specific affiliation facility handles Thursday nights; however, since finishing up my studies, I didn’t see any harm in disseminating my name throughout each of the three facilities, to make sure I could be of benefit whenever needed! Each night is broken up into three shifts: 7pm – 11pm, 11pm – 3am, and 3am – 7am. There are always at least two volunteers during each shift, a dinner served at 7:30pm, doors locked and lights out at 10pm, rise with breakfast at 6am, and doors locked again at 7am (to allow for those who have jobs to attend to, time to get off and going). Granted, the “emergency cold weather shelters” are not open every night – only when the weather is forecasted to dip below freezing (32 degrees F), so there are days that go by when there is no need for the volunteers. There are, however, other times when the shelter is open for several days at a time. And because the shelter is hosted by different participating facilities on different nights, the supplies (mattresses, pillows, linens, toiletries, check-in paperwork, etc.) has to be picked up, packed up, transported, unloaded, re-disseminated time and time again – all through the hard work of the volunteers and coordinated effort of the outreach program.

I’ve had the pleasure of shaking hands, filling soup bowls, brewing coffee, and sitting down to engage in conversation with several of the guests of the cold weather shelter in my community. I know several guests by name, and while only a couple remember my name (which isn’t a big deal to me), quite a few recognize me and greet me tenderly. The humility, graciousness, and true gratefulness I’ve seen displayed by these guests is heartwarming.

Twenty years ago, I had never witnessed a snowflake falling from the sky. I’m not complaining; I was blessed to grow up without the fear of frozen pipes, black ice, or snow drifts (of course that also meant no snow days – ever!) Because of that, though, I also never would have known what an “emergency cold weather shelter” was, nor would I be able to explain how they functioned; my narrow scope of reality was dictated by my experiences. Even more so was my shielded view of those beautiful people who walk through the doors, thankful for a warm meal, a warm place to lay their head for the night, and a warm, friendly face, sharing with them the simple “hello” of humanity.

I am grateful for new relatable experiences that help to clarify vague interpretations, add definition to the abstractions of life, and sort out, slowly, the plethora of misunderstandings.


So, I’ve been “absent” from the Blogosphere for a few weeks…

With cause, perhaps. Without cause, mainly, except in that I have been overwhelmed with work assignments as well as other tirelessly monotonous “to-do”s and a sheer lack of drive and willpower. It pains me to say that, yes, pain – physical, agonizing pain – has also played a huge part. It’s as if the breaking of my heart has found some way to manifest itself into the needling anguish of arthritis and tendonitis, coupled with MS and fibromyalgia, crippling my hands with searing discomfort and affliction. My mind, twisted and tormented by sprouts of new ideas bursting through a barren wasteland of decades-old non-composition, enduring the pulverizing wallop of giant new characters scrambling around, seeking to mingle and cavort with the edges of reality, and gasping for air, avoiding the sinking, drowning sensation within, yearning to stay connected to eyes, ears – a whole consciousness – awakened to the ‘New’, hidden in plain sight, by virtue of new, broadening perspectives.

For anyone who has known me longer than a week, my fierce desire to be a writer is more than evident – even in the performance of my rather lifeless “day job”… With the onset of such debilitating pain, I was beginning to feel as if I had been led down a long, winding road that culminated in a wall of thickets and brambles, impassable without seeing my dreams ripped to shreds. Even these few words today are met with bittersweet passion and, well, infuriating pain! (I say “infuriating” because if it weren’t for the pain, I would write and write and write – but even if I were to “power through the pain” as I have in the past, it ends up leaving me truly incapacitated, with barely enough strength to hold a pen, raise a glass to my lips, or pet my fur-babies; therefore, I am truly infuriated by the pain!) However, I felt it necessary to expound on both my recent hiatus as well as something I read this morning that struck my inner soul like a flash of lightning.

My truancy, I believe, I have sufficiently addressed. I now wish to share something with you that I hope touches you in a way that helps elevate you beyond any barriers that stand between you and your dreams:

In the reflection portion of a devotional I received via email this morning, the question was asked: how much energy do you expend crafting words or stories that are here one moment and gone the next? It was followed up with this question: what could you speak or write today that might outlast you?

…let that sink in…

Here’s where I was struck by a jolt of electricity: the ending prayer called on a thanksgiving for the deliberate and intricate unfolding of my own life’s story, with its unpredictable plot twists and myriad of interesting and motley characters. It reminded me to grieve the sorrows – “the dark episodes” as it referred to them – and unabashedly name my fears and hopes for the chapters yet to be written.

In that, I was reminded: My. Story. Is. Not. Over. There are still chapters that have yet to be breathed into existence! Who’s to say that my hands will always ache? Who’s to say that my rather lifeless “day job” may not disintegrate into a beautifully fantastical dream job of imagination and writing? What I can say is this: absence truly does make the heart grow fonder! Despite the pain, my heart’s fire is ablaze just in composing this short oration! And with such, it spurs me on to continue!


Without any forethought or planning, I took last week off from posting, and just spent the time quietly enjoying the holiday weekend with my son. To say that nothing spectacular happened at our place would be the understatement of the year. I texted my mom late morning to wish her a Happy Thanksgiving, to which there was no reply, and later in the afternoon I received the customary “Happy Thanksgiving” text from my daughter (I replied, and we had a short back-and-forth text conversation about her younger brother’s “hibernation” habits and how they were interfering with my brunch menu). Outside of that, no other texts, phone calls, emails, smoke signals, carrier pigeons, singing telegrams, nothing – just a deafeningly quiet day at home. Is this odd? Well, seeing as how I have five brothers who are all, for the most part, adequately versed in cell phone operation, and that Thanksgiving was historically the primary family holiday, yes, experiencing complete “radio silence” was chilling – almost “Twilight Zone” worthy… As if having five brothers who were mysteriously absent on Thanksgiving wasn’t odd enough, coupled with the cold shoulder my text was receiving from my mom, my three rather “social” sisters who also know how to rapid-fire group text messages were freakishly missing too! No “hi”, “howdy”, or “hey” from any of them! (And, for the record, almost a week later, still no response from mom…)

I guess that’s what happens when you live several states away; you’re not an everyday voice, and not an everyday face, so eventually the memory of you becomes blurred, faded, and erased.

Ironically, the flip side of that happens on the job – at least for me! Being so consistently reliable and reliably consistent has made my face and my voice as commonplace as the torchiere lamp in the reception area of our office. Everyone just takes that lamp for granted; the lamp has been in the office for years and years, dutifully greeting clients with warmth and cheer, nary being thanked or extended a word or gesture of gratitude because, after all, it’s only doing its job… If, for some reason, the light was left off though, everyone’s day would be slightly askew – grumblings in the office corridors about the uneasiness in the air. Why? The lamp is not lit. What lamp? The lamp in the reception area. Never noticed a lamp in the reception area. Never noticed it because it’s always lit. The lamp isn’t lit today. Why? The lamp should be lit; that way it’s not noticed…

I stepped out for lunch one afternoon. Seems harmless; most people do it on a daily basis. One particular individual – let’s just refer to this person as the “helicopter pilot” – came around looking for me while I was out running some errands on my lunch hour (and to reassure any and all, I was within that one hour timeframe!) and was totally taken aback when it was discovered that I had the audacity to step out of the office for lunch (read: the lamp was not lit)! The helicopter pilot even stated, “but she never goes to lunch!” and began to “joke” that such departure from normalcy required ‘disciplinary action’; the company wanted consistent reliability and reliable consistency, not “free thinking”, and they didn’t want to have to come up with a contingency plan in the event something – anything! – should happen in my brief absence that would require someone else to do anything outside their scope of ‘job function’, such as say hello to a client…

~ sigh ~

Regardless, either case seems to be extreme, but yet truth. My large, usually tight-knit family seems to be lost to the four winds, my phone as silent as the grave, while the office staff, in particular the helicopter pilot, content in knowing that I will be at my post, day in and day out, all the way up through quitting time the day before a national holiday, because I have no better place to be (read: she lives hundreds and thousands of miles from any family, so she doesn’t need to go home early to prepare for guests – she won’t be having any guests at her place – and her son can just wait for her to get home; he’s old enough to be by himself until she gets there). An old, faded, barely distinguishable memory, not even noticed as missing to some, while to others, simply not noticed at all, blending in with the rest of the surrounding décor, almost as if just another light fixture…