The last two days were pretty straightforward at work. The usual interruptions, the normal plans that aren't completely carried out, a few meetings, new plans, and a few more steps in the correct direction that will lead to something really cool.
I got one good Hong Kong movie referral during some on-line conversations, and had a good long talk with Geoff. Cera was fairly busy until Friday, but I was able to speak with her some on Friday. I also had some time with Carl, which was very good.
Between Carl and Marith and Cera and Geoff something strange happened this week, and I read three books in one evening. It was mostly Cera's fault, because of the strange mix up over her Christmas present. I'd sent her a book on Japanese calligraphy, and Amazon sent her In the Night Kitchen and she had loved it so much, I had to get a copy for myself with part of my mother's gift certificate. Yes, that is an easy read, but it is much better giggling in bed. The other book was also recommended by Cera, called only Kitchen by a Japanese girl named Banana. The third book actually was in reference to Cera, but through the recommendation of Trip, and was the manga named Banana Fish. It was a logical string of connections, in my mind, though the themes were all over the map.
Carl's fault was in getting me to start reading at all, as he sent me the good investment book for Christmas and started talking with me about the books and about reading a whole lot more. Marith and Carl also recommended Dangerous Angels, which Cera had recommended a few months ago. Geoff was guilty only by association. It has been quite some time since I have picked up a fictional work, and his rpg work landed in my mail box just a while back and piqued my interest enough to get me to read the first bits. That seems to have opened a floodgate of desire for all the fiction I haven't read in the last while; and, at this moment, after years of almost avoiding working with my own imagination when not encouraged by gaming with Genevieve or Carl, it was very sweet to have an outside influence that was more general.
Geoff has really gotten me to think more about quite a few things that were extremelly painful after Mark, including my attitudes about all the dark things I used to simply accept about myself, about how I really want to be. It's been a very good set of thoughtful conversations that have kicked my imagination back into gear as well as a desire for fiction, music, and simply sharing great gobs of thought, experiences, and feelings. Some of that I'll readily blame on Cera as well. They are parts of my mind and heart that haven't been exercised for quite some time.
I also talked extensively with John about these friendships and the whole combination of fear and possibility in the extension of them in the future. Both Cera and Geoff understand the role of secondary relationships, and both know the limitations I would impose, that the caring and intimacy doesn't mean that we'll leave our real lives. Even before there is the possibility of a relationship, we are communicating like crazy to see if there are any pitfalls, which bodes well. I don't really know how far anything is actually going to go and a lot of the benefits of all this can be satisfied by a very close friendship without ever striking out into the waters of 'relationship', but talking it over never hurts and John was very glad that we talked things over early, before anything is even happening. He's seen that both of them are positive influences, so far, so has no objections.
Some of it was that my orders from Amazon were arriving in a stream, and it seemed just too perfect a time to just wade in and try out this imagination out again. I still have quite a lot to do at work, but I don't have to spend all my evenings watching TV, dictating, and playing video games. I did manage to do one more set of things for the project in the last part of the week, and it was probably the most scary problem I had on my plate. This means it'll get the most test time of the things I do from now on, which is a good thing. Next week will be completely devoted to a team effort at automating our test sequences to make the much easier to run much more frequently, which should be a very good thing and I'm very glad that the company as a whole has the foresight to invest in that kind of time.
I loved In The Night Kitchen and was happily shouting out lines while I was home. Sometimes, around just John, I'm mostly kid. Poetry, made up songs, and shouting rhymes at full voice while bouncing around the house and chasing Fezzik. Fezzik got lots of hugs and he likes dancing with me when I dance. Kitchen was... painful in a very good way. It's very focussed on loss and death but in the ways that human beings can deal with death and help each other with such losses. So for all that the material was very angstful, it was also, in the end, upbeat in a very useful way for dealing with some of the very harsh realities of living and loving. Banana Fish mostly made me want to read the other two volumes, it's gritty and harsh and has the heroic and helplessness themes that are so common in Japanese manga. It's got beautiful art work and people as well.
The other new thing I tried out this week was interviewing people for a position in our group. It has been years since we have had the resource support to actually hire people, since we came from practically start-up proportions of money and are now in a growing and capable company, that novelty is now a reality. It was very interesting to actually interview people and realize what really is important to me in someone I work with. If someone is quick enough on the uptake, I don't really seem to care exactly what technical skills they carry under their belt, and I care quite a lot more about what kind of attitude they bring to problems, people, and situations. I also am very interested in how they approach their mistakes, not just the triumphs.
Speaking of mistakes... finally, the Montauk stocks have actually come into our portfolio on Charles Schwab. It was something of a reality check to actually have all the gains and losses put into one portfolio and actually see the cumulative effect of the two portfolios merging. I really shouldn't think of the past losses as anything I can affect, I can only affect what happens in the future by doing stuff now. It was just very disheartening to see the significant losses posted since November. The stocks the John and I bought have weathered the rollercoaster ride of the past week or two very well.
Cooking hasn't done very well until tonight. Yesterday we stopped by Safeway and one of the things they had on sale was a bag of onions, I think it was 10 pounds of onions for three dollars, which was a pretty good deal; and I think I used two pounds of onions to make French onion soup tonight. Just sliced all those onions into a pot with olive oil and butter and let it cook down until it caramelized to a deep, rich brown. Added a little flour for thickening, salt and pepper for flavor, and then plenty of beef bullion. A dash of cognac just before ladeling stuff over toasted French bread, and then a layer of Swiss cheese was melted until it was bubbling and brown under the broiler. The hearty soup was really good, and making it gave John enough time to ride the exercise bicycle. He has been riding the bike nearly every day, and I'm impressed with his dedication to getting his exercise, now. It really seems to help him feel better everyday, so I'm very glad we got the bike before the vacation.
Most of the rest of the week has been leftovers of various sorts, including making a quick turkey dinner yesterday. I know I didn't read the books while John was in San Jose, I kept getting home too late with a brain that was too filled with what I wasn't getting done. So I probably did the reading Thursday night, while John was catching up on work and we stayed up until 1 a.m., him on the computer and I reading. I know I am too busy when I can't even straightened out which day had what food. Hopefully I'll actually sleep extra this weekend.
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