Friday, November 14, 2008

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

Last time that I wrote, it was just after our Election Day, and I was still in the free flow that my several weeks of vacation were providing. Tomorrow, I will return to the shop, and in the time since I went on vacation, much has changed.

Others might call me a workaholic, but I do not call myself one. I am a Virgo, and like to do things properly, think a lot, try to plan, etc. To step away from my demanding manager role for several weeks, was very difficult. I absorbed all the words about ... it's good for you, refresh yourself, it is part of the company's culture ... all that, and still, it was very difficult to schedule this break.

Well, oddly, my time off not only coincided with our marvelous election results, but also with the continuing descent of the financial markets, and the continuing uncertainty of what is to come. Ah, this Virgo has just tossed analysis to the sky. Let it be, etc.

During the past Monday through Wednesday, I attended a series of managers meetings held off site by my company. During those days we got much more info about how we will respond to the financial meltdown, and even had an amazing workshop by a representative of an organization called the Great Place to Work Institute. My employer has ranked highly in this Institute's surveys for the past five years.

There was a full moon on Wednesday. More input for the mix.

During my free time, I had had enough free time, without any clock, to daydream, paint, doodle, play with yarn, shop for boots, go to museums, get a hair cut, see friends that I have neglected and to let the demands of my job drift from my mind.

Yesterday was a misty, then windy and rainy day in New York. After messing about in my apartment with various creative and practical tasks, I walked down Broadway to a lovely movie theatre just across from our glorious neighbor Lincoln Center, and got a big popcorn bucket to see me through the French film I Have Loved You So Long. It is a film I would recommend to any of you.

I walked back home, still in the mood that the film had induced. Got home late afternoon, and as I waited for the slow elevator to arrive at my lobby waiting post, I saw one of my favorite neighbors come through the front door of the apartment building. She was carrying a huge tote bag. Of course I greeted her, and began to talk about the rainy day. However, she then told me that she'd just been fired. She's a graduate of one of our Ivy League colleges, very energetic and devoted to her career. Her employer for the past 15 years has been a major magazine, part of a major media force.

Suddenly, the television, newspaper, Internet news reports of the recession impact just came crashing home. This hard working person is having her long built career abruptly stopped. She has had a job that many would dream of having, and now ... she does not.

Of course, we talked a long time, and I will say that she is very angry, but much more composed than I would have been had our roles been reversed.

Knowing that the coming weeks will hold many challenges for me as manager of a retail shop, I am so glad to have had these past three weeks pretty much away from the shop. It has given me a chance to recharge my energy, remember I am at heart an artist ... not a shop manager, and re-connect with my many old friends who remind me when and how I stray from that identity.

Today, I got groceries, visited the library, returning books, and picking up others, and did a bit of boot shopping. I wanted to find some that looked good and treated my feet well simultaneously. Got one cheap pair, but still want to find some more special styles.

Returning home, walking along a neighborhood sidewalk, I stopped to gaze in a florist shop that does really creative work, the windows are filled with sculptures done with the combinations of various plants, flowers, moss, whatever. All of a sudden, I heard a deep voice say, Hello, and turned to see the face of a man who was my lover many decades ago. Surely, the full moon was still operational.

He and I do encounter each other every so often and always immediately can just reconnect. He is also an artist. Each of us turned 63 this year.

Well, this chance meeting gained more strength, when we learned that we both saw that same French movie yesterday. He and I have some family histories that are similar, though we grew up in very different parts of the world. How very odd that we each saw that film, in the same theatre, just hours apart, and took from it many thoughts.

After a while this afternoon, we did our usual kiss and hug, and promise to see each other soon.

I came home, made dinner, started this blog.

Just now, I got a call from the shop with a Problem that has suddenly come up, and that I will face tomorrow. My vacation is over, my contemplative moments, thinking of past romance, are suddenly crumpled.

I will soon be going back on duty.


  1. Frances, those were some lovely, serene thoughts.. you said they would be crumpled, now that you'd be back on duty.. but I think they'd stay... slipping through layers of your daily humdrum, bringing a sudden smile at an instant, uninvited, otherwise trivial memory... your post sounded very sweet to me.

  2. Frances I do think your artist friend needs cultivating just too many coincidences and just like a movie - outside a fantastic shop, seeing the same film the day before. You should write a screenplay.
    Now I know it's the busy season for retail and times are hard but don't work too hard and get frazzled.

  3. Francis, despite your workload and worries, you do seem to live the most romantic life...Toady has hit the nail on the head, it reads like a gentle film script (I see it in black and white) Do please make a few more special moments for yourself amid all the uncertainty.

  4. Being a fellow Virgo i too have some of your traits.
    Am glad you had enough free time to do some of the things you enjoy before having to return to your work.

  5. Toady's hit the nail on the head, this post does roll out like a very beautiful film - the scene where you meet your sometime lover was so romantic!

    But, yes, reality bits too. I'm sorry to read about your neighbour but relieved for you that your employers seem to be developing strategies to deal with the downturn. Once again one of the strategies seems to be... send Frances in to sort out the problems. I'm glad you had some time to recharge your batteries first.

  6. So peaceful and serene, Frances. Sometimes we are very much in tune with other people and the incident you describe is beautiful and romantic. But it's sad to return to work with the problems already piling up. I suppose you will be especially busy now in the run-up to Christmas.
    Best wishes - Fenniexx

  7. Frances - your 3 weeks holiday have an almost unworldy quality - especially those final days under the influence of the moon.

    I hope you can hang onto some of those 'vacation' thoughts in the tough working days that are ahead.

  8. I wish my Virgo daughter had your hard-working and organised qualities, Frances!

    I'm glad you enjoyed your time off, and agree with Toady that maybe your past lover would like to get a little bit closer now.... maybe he just needs a little nudge!

  9. Francis I can't imagine living in a big city and doing the work you do. You always appear so serene and grounded. I am sure a week in New York and I would evolve into a screaming harpy.
    Take care

  10. Frances I have a long last learnt how to leave comments.I just wanted to let you know how much I love reading about your life in New York, and maybe , just maybe, one evening I will be awake late enough to catch up with you on PC.(lawyerlady)

  11. Dear Frances,

    Ahhh, had a touch of Breakfast at Tiffany's about it.

    Sorry to hear of your neighbours plight, I am sure that it will sadly become a common thing, already here the recession nibbles at our ankles. It's hard not to worry.

    Just wanted to say thank you for all the warm and encouraging comments you have left for me over the past weeks, they have meant a great deal and helped me through

    Zoë xx

  12. Frances - what a beautiful post.

    I am so sorry to hear about your friend being fired, must have been so devestating for her I do hope that even though businesses decline that she will will be fortunate in securing another post soon.

    I am pleased you had the vacation Frances, to take some time out and enjoy your life's pleasures and water-colours, since you work so hard.

    Hoping that past lover will return for much longer next time so that you can rekindle that romance, how wonderful that would be. As some have said........ maybe he needs that little nudge.


  13. What a fascinating blog, Frances! Firstly, yes, the news in the financial realm is indeed bleak and I fear this is just the beginning. I do sympathise with your friend who has just been let go from the magazine she worked for - I have many friends in a similar precarious position; magazines are losing advertising revenue hand over fist at the moment and, sadly, it seems those at the top of the editorial tree are often the ones to lose their jobs to be replaced by cheaper, hungrier colleagues a few rungs down the ladder. In my experience of the industry, the good people always come back - albeit to different roles and different magazines, but experience and expertise does still count for a lot.

    Fascinated to read about the coincidences under the recent full moon. The full moon this month was in Taurus, and this time of year the night sky is often filled with the shooting stars of the Leonid meteor, which I feel is full of magical portent. Your artist friend sounds an interesting and important person in your life. Sorry to hear of your looming work problems - hope they turn out to be not too difficult to deal with and you have time again to think of your art and your coincidental artist friend.


  14. Frances, thank you for visiting my blog and it is a pleasure to find yours! A special treat as my eldest son now lives in NY and reading your posts has helped me to feel a little more in touch with him :-)

  15. I just love reading about your day and the city around you..
    hope its a good week so far for you..

  16. Isn't it wonderful having a friend with whom you instantly reconnect after not seeing each other for a while? You can pick up the threads where you left off last time you met, as if you were never apart. I miss that with my friend Ian, who went away and never came back, many years ago now. But I have the same level of friendship with several very close, old as in long-standing, female friends and it just is such a lovely feeling. Interesting blog, as ever.

  17. I hope that you find time to be creative. I enjoy reading about your life and picturing your life in the big city, no doubt looking very Christmassy now.

  18. I've just discoverd your blog and I can't begin to tell you how pleased I am that I did. There is a gentle serenity here - unusual for someone who lives in the heart of a bustling metropolis - and the acute observational quality so characteristic of a good artist. I shall enjoy visiting your world from time to time. Thank you for sharing it.

  19. Dear Frances - very late to the party, as usual. I had read your blog but I can only assume that work intervened to prevent my leaving a comment. I always love reading about your life in NY - it's so different from everything else out there in blogland.

  20. What a beautiful, thoughtful essay reflecting in a personal way so much of our experience here in the city this strange autumn.
    I'm so glad you met your elusive and romantic friend.
    I think there is a short story here.......
    I'm still euphoric about the election.............
    Hope to see you soon.