Lessons of distance and duration

You can go a long way to get to home truths

One of the great things about travel is its ability to reveal new information – about the destination, the process, the people. In the slightly uncertain number of hours since I left Auckland on Wednesday, June 25th, I’ve come 9,841miles (16,481 km) and revealed at least three things about myself:

Revelation 1: I am much calmer and more tolerant than expected – where the object is a stranger, officialese, weather, geography, animals and even children. This is happy discovery
Revelation 2: the reverse applies to close associates, where I find myself to be excessively judgemental. and irritable. This is not so happy, and I need to work on it. Still cogitating on the approach. Suggestions welcome! Especially from associates.
Revelation 3: probably a cause of R2 above, my management of my Bipolar II disorder is not quite as effective as I would like. Or perhaps the travel experience has specific challenges. It’s been rather unpleasant at times. However, I have managed it well enough to not be disabled, which is pleasing. Maybe I was a little overconfident.
Maybe these are not news to you, dear reader, but revelations to the humble writer.
What have you learned while traveling? How have your travel experiences revealed you to yourself?


Last post

This is my last post of the “Blog every day in June” challenge.

The challenge is over and done for many other participants, but I’ve ended up in a late time zone – into extra time.  I may have lost  day in transit, but most days I have managed to post something before going to bed – even if that has been technically the next day.

This is the first time I have been able to complete the challenge, let alone enjoy it all the way through. I even have some draft posts in reserve! Capturing ideas in draft and building a bank of content for future posts has made the difference this time. I tend to create ‘from scratch’ – it’s been a revelation to discover how much easier the “drafts bank” method is, especially when short of time, energy or inspiration.  I’m pondering where I can use this method in other parts of my life.

Thanks to whoever suggested it, @flexnib for making The List, and all the other participants for sharing. I believe it’s become a habit, and those drafts want to see the light of day.

The deep end of the Exhibits Hall

Today was my first ever session as a sales person on “booth duty” in the conference exhibition hall.  I went as a training exercise, to “observe and learn from the best”

That was the theory. And I did. For a while. After that, it got kinda busy, and there were customers waiting, and a spare demo station, so…

…I joined in.

Scary? yes. Educational? definitely. Fun? hell, yeah!

Reflection | noitcelfeR

Chicago Millennium Park- Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate” aka the Bean- reflecting completely, imperfectly, adjusting identity.

Where am I?
Is that me? Wave, gesture, adopt a strange pose, identify myself. Take a photograph.
Move closer, more naturally, softly. Take another photograph.
Come closer still, look into my own eyes.Take another photograph.
Bring my flesh hand up to meet the hand of the other me. Touch. Pause. Engage. Laugh
Everyone was comfortable seeing themselves in this mirror. Perhaps the sheer scale, where noone could ‘look fat’. Perhaps the distortion of curvature released us from the perfect image.
The innocent delight and joy of visitors, the gradient from disbelief to engagement, like the bean itself, another curve to navigate. Strangers clustered closely together under the arch, openly borrowing each other – person and image – for context and orientation.

And tonight, a musical accompaniment. The Benjamin Britten War Requiem performed live, nearby, outdoors. As I walked around the Bean, we experienced perfect but subtly distorted surround sound, courtesy of the echo-reflections of nearby buildings.

I like to think this is a rehearsal for how we will experience our first alien visitors – astonished, delighted, fearless, engaged.

Caffeine. Or lack thereof.

There is not enough caffeine in the universe.

To be more accurate, there is not enough decent-tasting steam-extracted essence of skilfully-roasted bean of Coffea arabica here in Ohio. I’m very fond of the buckeye state, and hope to return, but future travel plans will place it at the end of my US acclimatisation phase, not the beginning. What we have here, to paraphrase the famous Arthur Dent, is a liquid almost entirely but not quite unlike coffee.

It gets worse. Mysterious substances like “non-dairy creamer” are added. The mind boggled on reading the label. One way of telling that the cognitive processes are sub-par: if I were in my right mind I would not have read that label.

It’s truly amazing I can read that label, and operate this piece of delicate machinery, because although the clock on the wall claims it is 08:16, every cell in my body is firmly convinced it is just past midnight. It is so far after my bedtime that it is in fact time to get up. And have a coffee.

Those who know me well, know I have a finely tuned awareness of the effect on me of many psychoactive substances. I self-medicate with care and precision. Caffeine is the thing I need. Sugar is not. So a can of Red Bull or similar is not the answer. Yes, they come in “diet” varieties, but honestly, I need to wake up and *smell* the coffee, as well as drink it!

One more sleep!!!

One more sleep until I hop on the Big plane and go to Chicago and San Francisco. I’m filled with my usual mixture of excitement and dread.

Excitement is for everything, no matter how prosaic. Different money. Drinking rootbeer. Having another Summer. Being completely among strangers. At the Bean. Walking on the other side of the footpath, I mean sidewalk. Dusting off the other vocabulary! 

Dread is only my normal background worry, amplified and emphasized by the change of environment. It’s not about other people or places, only about me. What will I forget? What will I lose? Will I get lost and be embarrassingly late? What part of my plans will turn out to have a stupid gap?

The good thing about this is it’s entirely under my control & I have loads of practice in dealing with it. All of those worries can be managed with a dose of relaxation. Chill out Sarah!  I’m certainly not going to let a little thing like Dread cancel out my excitement and spoil the enjoyment. Just like I don’t at home.

Everything packed except my medication, toothbrush and undies. I don’t know why I usually leave these until last. I’m certainly never going to forget them again…

I’ll do my best to keep up the daily posts and share the excitement.

What to wear to work??

I now have 3 dress codes to shop for…

At Home:
aiming at Getting out of PJs + Staying warm. Most of these items I would not be seen dead in, but there is an element I can permit to be photographed:

beaded wrist warmers

Appointments out of Auckland:
aiming at Professional + Interesting + Easy to travel in. Favourite item: teal velvet jacket.

Appointments in Auckland:
aiming at Professional + Interesting + A chance to wear things that don’t travel well!

Actually no need for any more shopping in this area, Miss Sarah. There are so very many of these exciting items in my wardrobe.  They look at me reproachfully from their padded hangers. Once upon a time they were my everyday work clothes, a delight to my clients and colleagues. I’m saying it myself, but I had quite a rep for dressing beautifully.

Today’s choice: a snug-fitting flame-coloured dress with a long black leather coat and tall boots. Quite sorry there’s no photo, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask the other attendees to take a snap of my fabulousness…

Inconvenient though it is, in all three codes I’m holding steadfast to the *all-black-is-the-last-resort* principle. Colour is life!