Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Cadillac Slumps and Fluent Canadians

Watching. Just watching. When I shy away from work, as I am at this very moment, even as I type -- what's going on? I close my eyes. Nothing in the swirl that I can easily pull into language. But one thing is clear -- I'm very tired. Physically. I need more sleep than I've been getting. My eyelids ache, my mouse-elbow is uncomfortable. My knees are complaining, both about the exercise that I've resumed, and about how I sit at the computer, slumped back -- like a too-cool dude leaning way back, driving his Cadillac -- with my feet tucked under my seat, which keeps a constant tension on them. (On the knees, that is. Lord, fix that sentence before you post this, Dale.) I sit up straight, get my feet out from under. Much easier to breathe this way. But when my attention leaves my posture, I'll go back to the Cadillac slump, and tuck my feet under again.

Another thing in the swirl is a sense that I'm letting people down. I've done much more work this week than usual, but none of it is very visible, and I dread the phone conference with Canada tomorrow, when a dozen people will run down what they've done, and then it will be my turn. I don't like telephones at the best of times, and I handle it by being curt and dismissive, particularly of myself. I say I haven't gotten much done, mention a couple of things, and that's it. Daring anyone to ask why. I hate the sound of myself making excuses. Can't bear to do it. But I'm sure I come off as the surly arrogant American, to all these graceful, good-natured, fluent Canadians. There's always a little pause after I speak, in which you can hear them thinking -- "Is that all? What DO they do, down there?" And then the moderator picks it up and moves along to the next person. I'm on loan to this group, part-time, so they have to take what they can get.

I make it so real, in my mind. This conversation that hasn't even taken place yet. The responses I imagine in other people's minds. The assessment of my work. The impression I make. I don't know any of these things. In fact much of the scanty evidence I have suggests that they're false. These people are grateful I've undertaken this task, they know it's a bitch and politically delicate, and the last American loaned to them from my office did nothing at all. At least I come up with design documents, from time to time. I respond to emails promptly and fluently (in email, anyway, I'm personable and forthcoming). I've helped them out with some sticky stuff.

It's not even true that I was doomed to slump and tuck my feet under again. I'm sitting up straight with my feet on the floor.

But I am very tired. Not least, of having to try to stop these thoughts from convincing me. Good night, dear ones. You all are wonderful, you know.

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