Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Early Morning

They say it's the worst time of year to be in Alaska. It's warm enough in the day for the snow to thaw but cold enough in the night for it to freeze. Thus, the street corners and alleyways are full of a dangerous combination of ice and slush. Piles of graying snow are everywhere. From my hotel window, I can see snow on the shady side of the rooftops. Yet, I can also see the tremendous mountains in the near-distance, and the slush doesn't bother me. My one pair of shoes are short boots so I am well prepared for the conditions. I have many layers of hand knits to keep me warm (sweater, scarf, socks, mittens). When I left the hotel this morning, the cold air felt good after half a day cooped up inside, trying not to be sick.

I am not a great invalid. I didn't nap, but I should have tried. Instead, I watched Netflix on my computer and knit on my socks. I ordered room service twice. I ate all of the salad I got for lunch but only about half of the soup and sandwich I had for dinner. The bed is much softer than I'm used to, which makes sleeping not terribly comfortable. I woke up at 1am, 4am and 5am. At 5:30, I sat up, started reading and getting ready for the day. On this trip, I've had no urgent email from work (famous last words). It was almost a disappointment when I opened up my email and didn't see anything that needed a response. What, they don't need me?

In typical fashion, my brother who lives in Israel, called me on Tuesday since he's in Baltimore. It was fun to leave him a message saying that I was in Alaska. We talked on the phone briefly and I still may get to see him since he's around for a week and I get back on Saturday. I'll find a way to make it work, as usual.

In my reading on the plane, one of the articles was about a therapist who treats Hollywood creative-type clients with unusually directive methods. He gives them instructions and exercises and they go on to win Academy Awards. Well, some disproportionate number of them do. One of the techniques is to imagine your audience covered in dust; recommended for public speaking, interviews and, in one case, dealing with a particularly aggressive boss. I wondered if I could use that technique with my boss. I always plan to deal with her calmly but my emotions take over and words come out of my mouth that I only intended to think. Maybe I should picture myself covered in dust. I need someone to help me with particular techniques to deal with her calmly and rationally since my meta-understanding of the situation, her defensiveness, need to contribute and be in charge, because she's out of her depth, etc., don't actually help me one bit because she is still standing in my way as I try to do my work. Since this will be my last extended time away from the office for a while, I'm starting to worry about my frustration level when I go back to dealing with her on a daily basis. My work is so interesting right now that I would like to find a way to be happy at the office. I really want to be there—the next few years are going to be the best of my career and I don't want it to be ruined by constant clashes with my ridiculous supervisor. We can't know why she is the way she is, all we know is that she's not going to change. I'm not going to change either, not "deep down." But I certainly need to change my approach to dealing with her.

And…Alaska. It doesn't get light until around 8am here. When I left the hotel at 7:30am the city was just starting to wake up. It was still dark with just the faintest hint of a lighter blue against the black sky. When I got to the coffee shop, I wasn't alone but there was no line like yesterday. A few minutes after I ordered, a line formed, naturally and politely. It's just after 8 now and I should get back to the hotel to start my work day. If I'm feeling better, I may walk down to the harbor later. It's still full of ice. I'll have pictures soon.

Grateful for: time to think.

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