Monday, November 05, 2012

Grinding, Churning, And Other Jobs

Office BrekkyI came to work today.

Usually that's not something that deserves its own sentence, much less a whole paragraph. Today, though I'm going to give it a little air, let everyone take it in, sit with it for a moment. I did not have to scale any mountains, nor slog through snow, nor even stand on a jam packed subway car. I bundled up, packed a water bottle and a book and took off. I decided to start a little late, 30 minutes or so, and see if that would mean that the crowds had thinned some. Turns out they had. I got a seat but I'm pretty sure that's because the available seat looked like someone had spilled coffee on it a couple of weeks ago so people were avoiding it. I don't seem to have suffered any ill effects from sitting in dried coffee for an hour. The trip, door to door, took 15 or 20 minutes longer than usual and the part where we waited in the tunnel, some indeterminate way under the river, while traffic cleared ahead of us was my least favorite part. I got here, though, just fine.

We never doubted you would, you might be saying. On some level neither did I. However, I'm an anxious person. I've got 43 years experience in smoothing over most of it and probably 35 years of actively working to control it, so I hope it's not immediately evident. I don't take any medications for it yet, I try to honor it but not to let it lead me. (For extra credit pick the operative word in that last sentence.)

I'm nonessential personnel in the grand scheme of things. I'm a personal secretary for people who are semi-retired. If there is an emergency in the city there's no reason for me to add to the problems by using up space on mass transit, getting caught somewhere that requires rescue, or generally clogging up the escape routes. When we have any kind of serious weather problem I work from home and my people are extremely understanding about that. All of this is to say that working from home all of last week was a no brainer. With things uncertain and unstable I belonged out of the way. Come today, though, I wondered what the math was on this choice. Would I be adding to a stressed system or hiding out? Turns out that, while it wasn't vital to the turning of the earth, it was going to make everyone's life easier around her if I came in so I did.

Aftermath Honestly, it was a good thing for more than just office logistics. My stomach was churning while I walked to the train and I finally understood that I needed to experience the reality of whatever the new normal was because my imagination was spiraling me up into what they called in the olden days "a state." While I was allowed to work at home and gather information and do some little things for the relief effort I was also allowing my radius to shrink. I could get to the park once a day, to the closest donation center, out for a twenty minute dog walk, but even those forays were getting harder. Inside my apartment it was hard to get off the couch. So, getting up and wandering through my usual routine and getting on the big bad underground machines was important. I had to punch through the skin of my bubble, get my head up, and get on with it.

I felt pretty good at work. I didn't stay all day and I was eager to head home but being there wasn't too bad. The trip home, earlier than usual, was pretty quick. I ran into some neighbors and we walked through the park together. Since it was getting dark I decided to walk the pooch right quick. I only stopped to lay down my things, leash him up, and pick up some poop bags. When I put my hand on the door knob to leave, though, I felt my stomach twist a little and that weird swollen taste come up in the back of my throat. I actually stopped for a second with the dog champing at the bit. Then I turned the handle and walked through the doorway and we hit the road.

It sucked less than it did this morning. Maybe tomorrow will suck a little less. And so on and so on...


  1. so glad you went, hugs for tomorrow. new normals are good. xo.

  2. I'm sorry for your anxiety...every new day...another chance to find the normal. absolutely.