Sunday, June 25, 2017

Ten Fun Things and Some Thoughts on Work and Change

This weekend was bittersweet because Michael was taking a flight back to the U.S. on Sunday morning, and while I knew that it was just a matter of time before I too get to make my yearly migration (and see him and friends and family) I couldn't help but feel a bit sad and lonely at the thought of the upcoming week and a half by myself in Hong Kong.

A dramatic and challenging week at work (a busy work week preparing for a closing, plus some other happenings that weighed heavily on my mind - more on this below) left me feeling very drained on Friday night.  I came home at nearly 10 pm and, with barely a word to Michael, sat down at our dining table and sank into my perfectly piping hot, tasty, amazing spaghetti and meatball dinner to try to drown my feelings of stress and sorrow.  (That dish was the perfect antidote.  Posto Pubblico might be my current favorite restaurant in Hong Kong).  As a result, I really wanted to take it easy over the weekend, and just enjoy my time with Michael away from work.

So here are my 10 fun things:

1. I finally started watching "Big Little Lies."  I had read the book what feels like years ago but certain details began to resurface as I started on episode 1.  So far, I think it's a pretty accurate rendition of the characters, and to my pleasant surprise Michael started watching it with me.

2. We went to afternoon tea and snacks with our friends and their two kids at Cafe Grey on Saturday.  The views were lovely, the sun was bright and shining (which felt like the most beatific smile from the heavens given the buckets of rain that have been dumping on us as of late), and it was fun to hang out. 

3. I promptly got home and took a long nap.  Naps are amazing, aren't they?  Actually, sleep in general is amazing.

4. I have been on a bit of a peaches and cherries kick lately (separately, not together).  I had never considered myself a stone fruit fan in particular (I really consider myself a nearly undiscriminating lover of all fruits) but there has not been a pile of cherries or a carton of donut peaches that I can walk by lately.

5. I helped Michael pack once he had gathered everything he wanted for his trip (I know, this is crazy, but I actually really like packing and I can't stand how he tumbles everything into his suitcase).  Something about rolling pants and shirts and socks and underwear up into neat little bundles and packing it into a case like sardines in a can brings me a small burst of joy.  I fully understand this is weird, but on the grand scale of weird this feels like a very innocent weird quirk to possess.

6. I pruned and watered our new Thai basil plant, which I neglected while we were in Beijing.  It was dehydrated to near-death, a sad drooping sack of weeping basil, which I promptly flushed (nearly drowned) with an disproportional amount of water.  But I've now nursed it back to health and it's looking great.  I also used it to make myself a basil, cheese and egg omelette for breakfast, and plucked some fresh basil for my salad for dinner, so I am feeling very happy and productive.  Unfortunately, the poor thing will not stand a chance given we plan to be gone for nearly the entire month of July.  Any one want to plant sit for us?

7. I went shopping (or really, running errands that led to some good-natured meandering that led to buying clothes) on Sunday that resulted in a cute blouse and a supremely comfortable black silk dress, both from COS (and both at 50% off) being added to my wardrobe.  I plan on wearing the blouse over vacation, as it will be perfect for the Outer Banks.  Isn't it so much fun to buy things in anticipation for wearing it for a special occasion or trip?

8. I really need to buy a new bathing suit.  Something cute but comfortable but also functional and strong and timeless.  Also for the Outer Banks.  Admittedly, by "need" here I really mean "very strongly, very much, would like."

9. I had a long video chat with my friend Emily while nursing a cup of tea, catching up and chatting about all sorts of things.  I had meant to make it about an hour but it turned into an hour and a half. Girlfriends are amazing, aren't they?  Sisters too.

10. I just finished a very engrossing book called "The Wonder," by Emma Donoghue.  The book is set in Ireland just a few years after the Irish potato famine and Crimean War, and follows a nurse who has been brought there from England to observe, and figure out, whether and how and why a young girl is able to subsist without food.  It was on many must-read books last year, and I've finally gotten around to it. The book is very much ground in historical (and therefore religious and political) facts.  Although it may help you pick up on more nuances in the novel if you are familiar with the history of that time, none of that knowledge is necessary to enjoy the dark and emotional mystery.  The pace of the book is slow but the plot is never not riveting.

11.  BONUS!  I actually have 11 fun things.  I read a lovely article while browsing the blogs this morning, about how savoring, or the simple act of just taking a few moments out of the day to pause, reflect, consider, and enjoy that particular moment, will increase your happiness.   Isnt't this just the old adage of "Stop and smell the roses?"  But it felt good to be reminded, all the same.


To pick up the thread on the work topic begun above - lately, I've been thinking about the fact that I'm now nearly ten years out from my law school graduation (in particular, how much I would like to be back for my tenth year reunion, which is kind of a rare and weird thought for me because I haven't felt nostalgic for law school since... well. It's been a while).  During this entire time, I have pretty much been working without any breaks or leave (save for the two or three week vacation) at the same law firm.  That's pretty rare in this day and age, and it comes with a lot of things both good and bad.

On some days, there is a lot of comfort in understanding the firm culture so thoroughly, and having the institutional knowledge.  On some days, there is a lot of confusion over whether my perspective has grown too myopic over time, given the lack of variety I have been exposed to over the past decade.  It can be disconcerting.

Some disappointing and frustrating things happened last week at work that were made doubly disappointing and stressful because I felt it was due to my failure to advocate for myself, and I couldn't figure out how to make myself overcome my inability and just do it.  I picture myself striding into interviews back in the day (though it doesn't feel that long ago at all), confident in a way that may or may not have been merited, and venturing boldly into a field about which I really knew nothing about.  The contrast in these images of myself, when held up side by side, give me pause as I try to measure how much I have changed since taking those first baby steps.  The difference in my substantive legal and business workplace knowledge is so much more easily quantifiable, but I suspect that this job, like every meaningful experience (or series of menial experiences to which we are consistently exposed), has also left an indelible, but perhaps less visible, mark on my emotional and mental psyche.

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