(title reference here.)
I spent my last two days in Hobart wandering the streets with a sketchbook and some pencils, and eating handfuls of fresh raspberries and blueberries very, very slowly in the sunshine with a jug of farm-fresh milk. As one of those suburban children whose previous exposure to milk consisted of homogenized pasteurized mass-produced plastic supermarket jugs, I did not know that milk could taste that... milklike. Zow.
Also in Hobart: went out on a boat, scrambled around the top of Mt. Wellington with a camera, and rediscovered a phenomena called "sunshine" and that exercise feels extraordinarily good (and that I'm going to be ridiculously sore when I get back into training after 2 months of completely ignoring martial arts in favor of getting my ass kicked by work.) And... music. Mmm, music. And writing - not on my computer, but with a pen, on paper, for a long, long time. My Big Notebook is filled with scribbles and scratches and sketches and gloriously unbroken streams of thought written in surprisingly clear handwriting. And sun. And sun and sun and sun, and then a predawn bus, and flying out as dawn broke through the clouds.
Airport security is so much faster here. And far, far less ridiculous. And vegetables are real. And there is air and you can breathe it.
And then there was Melbourne, where I stuffed my backpack into a cubby at the train station and ran across town as the city was waking up and ended up watching the Australia Day parade assemble - the streets were thronged with people wearing flags, a ukulele band on stage singing a Beatles medley, different ethnic groups in full regalia marching and occasionally playing music - and plenty of strange architecture, and sun, and sun, and sun, and sun, and sun, and then I ran back across the city and threw myself into a bus, into a plane, into a semi-comatose state until the plane hit tarmac in New Zealand...
My camera is literally falling apart (screws and plates and things are bending, rattling loose, falling off, etc) so the quantity and quality of these pictures are rather questionable, and that's okay.
Perhaps I'll post those pictures, perhaps I'll transcribe that notebook, perhaps I'll fill in more details on this later, perhaps I'll do a lot of things. If I want to, when I want to. I'm going easy on the promises right now; I have enough to last me quite a while.
And then I went to Wellington, discovered the cheerful thoroughness of the NZ customs department, which last night featured Walter and Sugar talks and Catalyst's incredibly cool office and fantastical Italian food (and sun and sun and sun and sun and sun). And now I am living in a place with internet (with deep gratitude to Tabitha and Edward) once again and oh my gosh sunshine is wonderful and instead of panicking about my backlog this time I'm going to see what happens if I move forward on doing productive work instead (and use that momentum to occasionally trowel out relevant material from this month until I'm all caught up / have publicly dropped things that are no longer relevant).
Tonight I went dancing; the style is called ceroc, which is like swing with the footwork replaced by walking. I also discovered why so many people complain about American coffeehouses not being up to snuff. For example: in a "normal" coffeehouse, my "normal" hot chocolate was an entire bowl of thick, rich chocolate-laden milk, dredged with cocoa powder, then the milk foam poured on top so that the cocoa powder swirled into a beautiful crown, and then there were handmade marshmallows, and you're drinking this glory (shown up-close with terrible lighting, and then to scale - that's Edward in the background with a thumbs-up, and yes, the bowl of chocolate is half the size of your head).
And rest. I've slept for 7 hours the last two nights, and dreamed like mad, and didn't have to wake up for anything, except to amble around a new city in the warm, warm sun, when I wanted to, and read Terry Pratchett novels, and eat gorgeously fresh food, and think. And most of what I think sounds like this: gosh, have I been this tired? And most of the rest of it sounds like: yes.
And slowly another small and cheerful voice, much too quiet the last month or so, has started chiming in again, more frequently. And there are projects that you care about and want to work on, communities you love and want to contribute to, and you can do this, it is wonderful, and doing this, it feels like flying! Work, meaningful work, not out of panic or guilt, not flogging myself through more stress because I feel obligated to Do Stuff, but actually having that sense of abundance flowing, that sense of happy gratitude but not of debt - the glory of being able to Do Things I Really Want To Do.
I have... missed this. To have found it for the first time, lost it without realizing it, learned how to recognize its absence, and now slowly learning how to bring it back and keep it at will - the joy of working on the thing you love - it's a hard-earned lesson, and one I'll likely learn again and again, but each time better.
And it has been wonderful to find that deep down, I really do love this. I think the things I'm working on and the people that I'm working with are going to change the world. It's still a painful letting go. I'm being vague here; when I've articulated this more, then it is something that I will write down here. Cjl's reminder that I didn't need to represent all of OLPC - or even 1cc - but instead was free to represent myself - was exactly what I needed to become unstuck in doing that.
Oh. And apparently there's this thing called "community management" and people do it for a living and why am I still amazed at this and how have I always managed to feel obligated to do something else (y'know, like be a Real Engineer or... become more Qualified or... what have you) such that I was not Able And Worthy to do this thing I loved and why do I have to keep on re-realizing this? I suppose I have a thick skull that takes a lot of spiral learning.
There's work to do. There's always work to do. I have conversations to transcribe, stories to recount, pictures to post, conversations to have, software to test, emails to write, meetings to attend, books to read, comments to reply to, and - well, look, I can't do this all at once. Here is my currently prioritised list of things to do while in Wellington.
- Being happy.
- OLPC community notes (my notebook is practically stuffed with them, yay Pia!)
- Getting ready for the Welly testers meeting on Saturday (which includes stuff like Actual Testing and the Thursday/Friday QA meeting).
- LCA followup + general reflections (other than OLPC community notes) that may not be LCA-specific + OLPC/SL-community-related responses (such as to comments on my blog, emails, etc.)
- Remora for Sugar Labs, as part of the "You Know, Defining QA Cycles May Not Be A Bad Idea" revelation.
- Thinking about What I Will Do Next (still an open question, but with bits of things that may be answers starting to trickle in).
The first half is guaranteed - the rest we'll have to see about. I am at present happily distracted by being free to wander in the sunshine.