"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bright to Grey

After I whinged about lack of writing progress, almost immediately I got productive.

So I'm going to whinge some more, in hopes that by admitting some truths, my outlook will grow more positive.

Perhaps it's the aftermath of last week's legislative frustrations but today, for the first time in forever--or maybe ever--I wasn't looking forward to my day at the Capitol.

A general ickiness enveloped me like a dark mist. Last night's presidential candidates' debate--the portion I watched--annoyed me. (No more debates--please! Double please with a cherry on top.)

I strained a shoulder muscle this morning and Advil and the application of a heating pad while I read the morning paper wasn't helping much.

In a quirk of timing, given the parlous state of the stock markets worldwide, I was actually selling shares today (a decision made long before these recent economic woes.) With expectations of a massive sell-off at the opening bell, I felt like I was contributing to the problem. And naturally I was concerned that my selling price would be a lot less than I had anticipated.

During my commute my mind shifted to elections--a special election took place in the neighbouring district today. I examined the prospect of getting un-elected next November and my feelings about that. I've committed myself to defending my seat, but today the getting booted scenario had its attractions. Like not having to deal with bad news--revised revenue estimates (downwards) and the Governor's edict for departments to pare down their budgets. At the moment, promoting fiscal responsiblity and ensuring adequate services seem highly incompatible.

On my docket today was a legislative luncheon on a controversial topic--attendance was voluntary. I didn't go for the free lunch so much as clarification on pending legislation. It was an interesting forum, but the info I wanted wasn't delivered by the speakers. It was stuffed into a packet of printed materials.

From there I went to my committee's briefing on the Fish & Game Department Audit. This was, I think, the first of our hearings to be taped. This did not deter me from asking a few questions of the audit team. The audit results are a blessing and a curse...there's a lot of directon provided, legislatively, but the choices are all difficult and even divisive. Not in a partisan way, but from a policy standpoint.

The events of the day left me feeling a bit deflated. Plus, the sunshine vanished during my hours in the Legislative Office Building, and when I reached the lobby snow flurries were flying outside. There was a legislative reception in the late afternoon...at the Capitol Grille again. Very likely featuring the usual menu. I chose not to go.

What sustained me throughout the afternoon was the prospect of returning home to the Lodge and the jacuzzi, and finding relief for the aching shoulder muscle (driving was rather unpleasant today.) A good long soak and a glass of wine and a book and canine company appealed to me far more than too-familiar free food and the buzz of legislative conversation.

Before I could escape the building, I was waylaid by someone who wanted to discuss the boating speed limit bill. Our conversation was a test of my desire to hear and examine all sides of an issue, even after my mind is made up. Still, it was a positive exchange, partly because I took the opportunity to ask the person some questions related to the audit and garnered some perspective on problems my committee must confront in coming days and weeks.

Arriving at my car, I took note of the gloomy prospect to the east of the House members' parking garage.

Grey sky. Snow. Rush hour approaching. Nothing to improve my flagging spirits.

I'm facing even more complicated legislative stuff this week. At a time when my habitual Pollyanna-ish optimism has fled. Temporarily. (See what I mean about optimism? It's there even when I'm at my most pessimistic!)

My soak did make me feel better, physically. Spiritually, I was refreshed by my reading material: a little book by the bishop of a diocese in which I once lived. He writes quite movingly and impressively about difficulties he had to overcome during his episcopate--the civil rights movement, the prayer book alterations, social changes and their impact on our church. He addresses matters of which I was either oblivious or only vaguely aware (I was young) but which are connected to present-day matters of social and economic justice. My former bishop passed away not long after his book was published. I was so thankful that our paths had crossed a little time before, at a national/international church event, giving me the chance to speak briefly with him. I always admired him, and the more I learn of him the more I find to admire.

I'll close by sharing four Very Good Things.

1. The stock I was selling didn't tank, so no adverse consequence to my decision to unload it today of all days.

2. I've succeded in keeping my one-and-only New Year's resolution. I vowed that I would choose, prepare, and set out my "official" clothes the night before I'm due at the Capitol, to save time and sanity in the mornings. Not only do I select my chosen outfit, but the back-up option--Plan B. So far, this effort has paid enormous benefits. My departure from the Lodge is no longer delayed by the fashion crisis du jour.

3. This morning I saw a beautiful pale hawk soaring over the motorway, at the spot right before the river, crossing from from one wetlands to another.

4. Last week, miraculously, I was standing at an upstairs window when an eagle flew over our woodlands and Lodge. The unmistakable profile was clearly visible, silhouetted against the sky. It's only the second time I've seen an eagle on our property--or rather, in our airspce. My first encounter was nearly fourteen years ago, only a few weeks after we moved into the house. I was sitting on the deck one morning and suddenly an eagle flew over. I hoped it was a common occurrence and ever since then waited for it to happen again.

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