Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Shape of Things

Let me preface this entry by saying that yesterday was awesome. As in:
Main Entry:
Function: adjective
1: expressive of awe
2 a: inspiring awe b: terrific, extraordinary

It was awe-inspiring. While some might say okay, why not say awe-inspiring, please remember I grew up in the 80's and 90's where we eschewed proper descriptions for overarching terms of our general happiness with how life was going.
That being said, let me debrief the whole world on my Tuesday night, which will go down as one of the best ones I've had. And I do this while acknowledging that I have had only 4.5 hours of sleep. You better believe I'm waiting for that hammer to drop about, oh, 3 pm.
The heat on the East Coast was unrelenting, and I think honestly an ant under a magnifying glass must feel like that a few short moments before he ceases to be in a burst of flame and smoke. If I hadn't had the forethought to roll the windows down to catch errant passing breezes and let the worst of the heat radiate out, getting in at the end of the day would have been hellish. It would've simply wicked all the moisture out of me and I would've sat in the seat, shriveled. It smothered us like a pregnant yak. Hopefully I have conveyed how horrible the whole thing was.
This area isn't used to this kind of unrelenting heat. A kind of pressure had been building in the background, slowly and almost imperceptibly. I kept expecting to see storms explode any evening to counteract the grossness of the weather. They didn't, and I kept being confused. It felt as if it should be happening, was imminent. The clouds kept twiddling their thumbs on the issue, however.
Yesterday had been a day of utter zoo-i-ness at work. Calls and tickets raining in on us at a rate I couldn't keep up with. I gave up, packed up, and went home as soon as I was allowed.
I was already under the burden of two papers due and no comprehension of the subject matter (as previously blogged). It was disgustingly, oppressively hot. And I was feeling antsy, as if I could not move forward in my life despite this drive to.
I wanted to play video games. I wanted to read. I wanted to do umpteen things and I could not. Not tonight, no. Because I had 2 papers due.
So I pulled in to the driveway and collapsed on the couch with Bob, announcing I simply did not have the strength to cook dinner. And that Chinese with a focus on vegetables and rice sounded wonderful. Bob looked at me in concern, because I never, ever say this. I never ask for Chinese, that is patently within the realm of things that HE requests to eat. Then seeing how tired I was, he gathered up the phone and acquired sustenance for us.
In the meantime we had had multiple birds gather at the birdfeeders on the corner of the porch. I fidgeted and opted to look at them for entertainment until I could gather up the willpower to take myself upstairs and start writing.
On the ground picking away was one brown bird and one blazingly bright red bird with a black mask. And as I watched, the male cardinal turned towards the female and began to pick fallen seeds from the grass and lean forward to give them to her. She would take them gingerly in her own beak, mess with them a moment, then swallow. And he continued to do this several more times, feeding her gently from the millet that had fallen from the bird feeder above. It was very touching in a totally anthropomorphized way, and I even made cooing noises over it. That alone made my day. I'd never seen bonding behavior between mates like that.
About that time it was noted that there was a huge thunderhead growing in the sky behind the house. The wind was also picking up. I had a wonderful time pointing to the rising thunderhead and the whisps of the clouds being blown out from the body of an approaching cloud bank demonstrating the strong updraft of the winds, and the indication where the storm cell was in the middle of the mass. In my intemperate youth I studied such earth sciences as geology and meteorology in the anticipation of becoming a biologist, and it is only on rare opportunities like this that I still get to use that knowledge.
It was purple and navy blue, like someone had hit the sky with a baseball when it wasn't ready to catch. And as we watched for a bit, it grew and billowed, preparing to become something very, very powerful.
In the mean time I was lamenting the fact that I really and truly desired to play Guitar Hero III, as I'd set up the character of Midori in a cute outfit and a matching guitar and I loved how she reacted when playing the guitar. Bob pointed out to me that the food wasn't there yet and a supposedly massive lightning storm was coming, which could pose problems for writing papers. It was probably best if I just played a song or two until the food got there, then I could head up and start to work.
So I did. I popped the wireless controller in, fired up GHIII...and 6 songs later my hands were buzzing and tingling in their lovely near carpal-tunnel way but I had gotten at least one 5 star song, several 4 star ones, and I'd even gone through the encore without really screwing up too badly. I had started with "Holiday in Cambodia", which I found myself humming often after that. I enjoyed the hell out of it, it only took perhaps 20-25 minutes, and I was mostly sated. Had my hands and arms not opted to pull rank, I probably would've kept going. But that was okay, because by then the food had shown up and the vegetable mei fun smelled glorious.
By the time the food had been served up in to bowls the clouds had slid in between us and the sweltering summer sky, bringing with it whipping winds and the distant rumble of thunder.
I gave up on my food almost immediately, leaving it on the coffee table and jumping out on the back porch. I took the clip out of my hair so the wind could play with it and weave it in to elf-locks. And while the storm drug itself in slowly and the lightning divided the sky, I stood barefoot on the back lawn and felt the breeze on my face.
Bob stood with me for a bit, watching the lightning fork through the sky in angry little white-blue streaks, crawling like a pissed off viper get away from something? To something? who knows. Then eventually he broke away and went inside and I stayed out there to feel the wind tear around me and through my hair. As the storm drew closer I began to get nervous, waiting for the feeling of the hair rising on my neck and get out of there. The charge in the air was immense anyway. I had the honest thought that if I stayed out there long enough, I would probably be struck by lightning. Then about 2 minutes later I opted to go back in, telling myself it was because the cats might eat my orange duck and rice more than getting myself away from the storm.
As we ate we watched the storm build and break, thrashing the leaves outside in to a silver and green gyrating ocean. The sky darkened as if dusk had fallen and a pale yellow cast snuck through the purple to cast itself over everything.
As we sat and watched, the lightning sizzled and the thunder boomed. Those lights we left on in the hallway flickered and gave up three times as we watched it have its way with the golf course, the hill, and the woods. In the darkness we cuddled together listening to it unleash its fury, tearing apart the stifled pre-summer day with great abandon.
The neighbor's inflated pink flamingo raced along the grass and parked itself in our backyard grass, vibrating there. Loose pots and peat plugs for seedlings shot off our top porch and littered the back patio, bouncing around and rolling wildly. It was all very energetic.
Eventually it died down so that only a mild rustling wind remained. Bob and I disentangled ourselves and turned the lights back on, marveling at how beautiful it had been.
Then I wandered upstairs and fired up my computer, the threat of losing my papers to a sudden blackout having past.
I listened to music and sang along softly while typing away about systems architecture and analysis. The words flowed out and while I struggled, there was basic understanding of what they wanted me to convey, and so I did.
And at 2 am I curled up in bed against Bob and listened to the last dregs of thunder, wind and rain as they shuffled half-heartedly over and around our house.
I tell you, it was an awesome day.

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