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July 15, 1999
a year ago
two years ago

Laying Ghosts

So I got my head down and really started working today. Had fun just being with Cera, without really the time to talk all that much, and Jenn came and was really fun to talk with between specifications and files and design decisions.

Lunch was fun and really good. Cary and Bob and I went out to KT's BBQ. They do the slow-smoked Memphis-style BBQ, where the meats come out tender and flavored with smoke and entirely dry of sauces. You get to put your own sauces on them, and the pork comes with the vinegar-based sauce that doesn't smother the taste of the meats. They also had sweet, local corn and it was crisp and lovely and so sweet I knew that they'd gotten it fresh that day. That was really, really good as a lunch.

Got back and was nattering, now and again with Cera about journal privacy issues. I still haven't worked all those out, yet, and I'm gradually figuring that for the last two years I haven't really asked anyone if it was okay to publish my interactions and feelings about them on the Web. It was good to bounce things off Cera and figure out how I really thought or felt about the whole issue. Way I've always figured, folks who read here have figured out that everything I write has been filtered through my brain and my experiences and my biases. That to make judgements on anyone that I write about here is silly, because I only see my side of the story and if the only input is from me, well, you're biased to start.

In the midst of all that, Mark popped in on the channel I usually share with him, then popped out saying that he had something to say, but couldn't find the words and he actually apologized for coming in and not having anything to say. I was a bit bemused and reassured him that that was just fine. But it did make me mildly nervous as I had no idea what he'd read into what I've written for the last few days.

I've never had the illusion that, in one pass, I can actually write things right. Or the way that will always get across to an audience what it is that I really wanted to get across; but I try it anyway, and if someone says that they misunderstood it, as Cera did, then I try it again and try to correct what I've done wrong. It takes three steps, really. First, someone to come back with the feedback. Second, for me to see it and figure out if I really feel that it was in error and, third, obviously, if I think I got it wrong, I try it again. Right or wrong, I get to rehash it and see if I can get it right again.

He then popped in again, then banged his head on a desk as he went blank again. By this time I was terrified, shivering, but put a brave front on it all anyway. Cera helped by just being around and just holding me without saying a darned thing. Enough that I had the courage to just stick it out and just talk. To see what he had to say.

And, as Mark and I went through things, I really think I captured my feelings for the last two days accurately. I also found out, by talking with him and having him listen and think and say things back, that those feelings and his actions then aren't the whole story or even the neutral story or even both our stories. So here's a try with more information and more communication.

Really talking with him about what he'd really meant with the extremely terse comments of the days before worked a few things out that nothing else could have. The biggest of which was the whole thing about Change, Growth and Creativity. He hadn't really meant the whole of those, though that was all he said, it was more the things under those caps that we were pursuing. As he pointed out, he's done some creative technical work and would call it that, even. It's very true that we've been going in very different directions. And the sample that he used was that, given where I was and what I was doing technically, he'd get as much out of a conversation with brain surgeons. Given that I have gotten a lot out of the accounts and conversation of brain surgeons, at first it didn't quite make sense to me. Then I figured out that it is simply a difference of approach. That he really didn't get much out of conversations that felt over his head. And while I really do enjoy seeing his art, hearing his music, and reading his writing, I don't really contribute much to them and vice versa.

Basically, there isn't a common base anymore, and without that, he's not finding the depth of conversation that he finds useful. Which goes well with both our understandings that we've definitely grown apart, down different paths and working for different experiences. And, as the real crux of the problem, neither of us are really contributing to the others efforts any more. That I understand.

He also said that he took the terse and non-communicative approach, mostly because he felt that the comfort approach had never worked in the long-run and also, simply, 'cause he was frustrated, that we were back in the cycle again. Which makes me shake my head. Just because I feel good at one time doesn't mean that it'll last forever, just because something gives me comfort at one time doesn't mean that I'll never be afraid again. He was saying that I had too much fear, still, as well, and I don't deny that I can be afraid, especially of pain from him; but I also will never say that I'll never be afraid of anything again. I'll work on what courage I can get, and keep a steady pace of it. I try things that I'm afraid of, and feel the fear, because I've built more capability and am willing to try something in the face of fear. I do cycle. But it's not because I'm broken, it's 'cause I'm human and Shit Happens. He acknowledge some of that.

He also did good and told me that he does care about me and does remember and acknowledge that I have done good for him in the past. That, as usual, got me to cry. It's always the good things that make me cry.

One thing that as important for him to convey, I think, was that, for him opinion isn't edict, and that, in his opinion, I take his opinions as judgement or something more than he means them to be. Which is likely. But then I take in all opinions as statements of what a person is and what they want and what they would be. Made the way I am, I take opinions, weigh pretty much all of them against my own values and opinions and make my choices. So nearly all opinions weigh on me. Differences of opinion have to be resolved in my mind. That is not to say that they have to be the same; but I really do care if the opinions of those near and dear to me are radically different than my own. And when I live in difference with them it does drag on me. Whatever else Mark's done, he's always made me very, very aware of those choices, and of thinking them through and picking what I really feel and think. It's just somewhat ironic that that same capability has made the relationship come apart.

Intensity. My entire relationship with Mark has, pretty much always, been about emotional intensity. At first all positives, lately a lot of negatives, but it's never been, about detachment or not-caring. I care too much, if anything. Some of it, I think, is 'cause I needed a way to be aware of my emotions, those things which are mine. I spent way too much of my life just sitting on my emotions for the peace of my surroundings, partners, or even family. Sitting and sitting until they exploded. At least in the last three years I've become deeply aware of what I feel and, in this journal, I often work out some of the why; and I have some awareness that makes it so that I can express things before they explode into a big upset, usually.

Just realized all that last, with some bouncing off Cera. Good or bad, the emotions were intense and I think I needed that badly.

Mark noted that there's an old Chinese belief that blood or spit can damage an angry ghost, will half its size. Given how much blood and effort he, Jenn and I have put in the last week about all this, I do feel that my ghosts have been diminished significantly.

So that was a chunk of the afternoon, and I think it settled things for both of us a bit easier and it's always nicer to have some understanding of what happened as well as reassurances on both our parts that we both still cared, it's just that we're both going our own ways and they are branching further. Reality check.

I spent the rest of the afternoon cranking through more specifications. It's very, very cool to do this, and be sure that when I'm done with all this I can just code and not worry anymore about what problem I should be solving. I'll have the problems, specifically, before me and I'll be able to just crank through them when this is all done with all the feedback from all the others involved. First drafts all due today, so it goes.

It wasn't until about 7 p.m. that I stopped and John and Bob were still at it, but willing to stop for dinner. We went to the Pearl Street Mall, of course, thinking we'd go to the Red Fish, but we wandered by the Boulder Cafe, and I decided that I really wanted to go there, instead. I've always looked at their menu, liked what I saw but we've always planned on somewhere else. So we went in there, instead! Bob and John still got good, local beer, and I ogled the dessert tray as we waited to get seated outside. There seems to have been a party of nine that wanted to sit outside, and it took the hostess a little while to convince them that that just wasn't going to work if they all wanted to sit together.

It was nice outside, but the bugs were biting me a bit. They ignored John, as usual. Grump, but I got a few welts while out there. The iced tea was real tea, and really refreshing with the wedge of lemon. I thought about an appetizer, but finally settled on a Chicken Fettuccini with goat cheese, French green beans, sun-dried tomatoes, and thin-sliced bacon. The chicken was a roasted dark meat quarter that was just marvelous, tender, juicy and the crisp skin was coated with spices and salt. Really savory and good. The goat cheese melted well over the wide noodles and the whole thing was really, really nice, though some of the green beans were longer than some of the noodles. That was funny. Dessert was what they called a chocolate pecan torte, but it tasted exactly like the chocolate pecan pie I had in New Orleans, rich and smooth and not very sweet. Really yummy with a decaf-cappuccino that was fairly smooth and not bitter.

While we ate, we talked a lot about work, actually. It's good to be able to just bounce things around with wild abandon because we're so comfortable with each other, not just as co-workers, but as friends. Maybe that's one of the things that having John and I as a married couple in the middle of the group helped perpetuate. That we can have relationships at a personal level as well as at a professional level and have it really work out to everyone's advantage. Wild, off the wall brainstorming can only be done in a safe environment, I think. And it came up with some really cool stuff.

Nice, cool evening, and we got home and John wrote down stuff from our talk and I wrote into my paper journal stuff that I'm talking about here and then we fell into bed and slept deeply.

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