Back, back, back

Josh sends me a message today with simply, blissfully a photo--labeled "We used to get free lunches every Friday"--of me, Lily, Monica, Geoff, Shayne, and Josh in the courtyard of the original WebTV building.

It sends me reeling.

There's no real reason to be nostalgic for the summer of 1997 (when the photo was taken, and when the Friday lunches were indeed free): we were making $10 an hour dealing with endless reams of ridiculous customer e-mail, commuting down to Palo Alto at all hours, kept afloat by Odwalla and cheap microwaveable burritos. But there's such a sweet patina to those days nonetheless; they were free of worries of long-term career success, of complex relationships--of anything, really, but who would win the Borders gift certificate for answering the most e-mails per week, or what outlandish surprise the next company party would hold.

It's funny what my mind is able to elide when it wants to: the frustrations of past jobs, the shortcomings and imperfections of past relationships, moments (and hours and days) I'd never want to relive. All of those get pushed down, and what comes rushing to the fore, bidden or not, are the glossy, happy, sun-dappled moments like those in the photo.

Incomplete and sharply edited though they may be, they keep me afloat when I need them most, when I need to remember that sometimes existence is nothing more than a catered meal in a Palo Alto afternoon, a third round of drinks with the friends I was convinced would never leave me, a nap on a beach in PEI with the man who filled my heart to bursting.


That old scattered feeling

Evidence of my million-thoughts-at-once existence over the past week is easy to find in a quick look at the piles of books and DVDs throughout my house.

There's the emigration theme: "So You Want to Be a Canadian," "Living and Working in Canada," "How to Be a Canadian," Lonely Planet's "Vancouver."

There's the brush-up-on-French-for-TEF theme: "French Plus--Just Listen and Learn," "Le Petit Prince," "Les Jeux Sont Fait," Larousse de Poche 2005.

There's the must-continue-crawling-out-of-emotional-hole theme, evidenced both by the return of "The Wisdom of No Escape" (for those "wish I had the fortitude of a Buddhist" moments) and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, by the wisdom of pure escape ("Queer as Folk" season 2 volume 4 and "Da Ali G Movie: Ali G Indahouse"--which, by the way, is utterly f'ing hilarious in ways both similar to and totally different from the show).

And, of course, as a constant undercurrent there's the develop-business-or-perish theme, with alternating piles of organizing theory books, business plan workbooks, and guides to things like marketing and branding.

All of which, not surprisingly, leaves me flitting about from one thing to another, unable to focus exclusively on one topic for more than, say, an hour at a stretch. Am I keeping things interesting or am I driving myself crazy? How long can my brain handle this constant and radical shifting of gears before it gives up and latches permanently on to the closest topic?