I just got back from visiting Nicole down the road where we drank Vietnamese coffee and ate mini muffins in her sunny and stylish apartment. It was also the first time in two weeks that I talked about work related stuff….WORK!
Almost every conversation in Aceh related to work in one way or another. Maybe someone was venting about a problem with a project, or someone had a new philosophy on “where we’re going wrong!” or maybe someone would mention the weird/delicious cake that was brought it for a snack (it was green and you drizzled this maple syrup stuff on it!). We were, after all, simply bodies attached to organisations in that place. Hi, I’m Jean, I work for Red Cross. Hi, I’m Dan, I work for Oxfam. Or if you want to get really personal: Hi, I’m Jose, I work for Save the Children and I’m from Spain. Once in a yoga class that my friend Sarah was leading, she asked each person to introduce themselves and say one thing about them that WAS NOT related to their work. There were audible shrieks of fear in the group.
Since being in Melbourne my brain (very easily) switched off from work and switched onto:
- how to burp a baby (I am VERY good at this, if I do say so myself)
- remembering to have change for the train or tram
- deciding what to eat when there is more than one choice
Looking after babies obviously requires more brain power than deciding what to eat for lunch, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the stress either activity causes me. I am absolutely certain that I do not like having choices. I don’t deal well with choices.
Back to visiting with Nicole, she is a smaaaaart cookie, in the early stages of a PhD that’s about all sorts of things that interest us both so there was a lot of talking we simply needed to do. We talked about the kind of stuff that, when we worked together (she was the BOSS), we would get stuck in her office talking for hours about. Big picture stuff about the state of development (and the world for that matter). For her it was relevant. For me, who probably should have been calling someone to chase up something, or sending off a contract to be signed, it was the most fun part of my day.
We wandered down to A1 Bakery for some tasty Middle Eastern baked goods for lunch and talked about work some more. Eventually I had to let Nicole get back to applying her thoughts in a meaningful way.
On the way back to Benjamin’s place I stopped in at the Book Grocer and bought eight books! I don’t have a bookshelf to store books on, and I certainly can’t take these eight books (along with the others I’ve already earmarked) to Bangkok with me. But they were only $5 each and I was convinced I needed each one. The Bonds of Freedom: Simone de Beauvoir’s Existentialist Ethics. Can you believe I didn’t already have a copy?!
Yes, I admit I just bought eight books which will probably be read to the 20th page and put aside for another time.
Now I am back on Benj’s couch coughing and spluttering and enjoying the warmer weather (the icy winds have finally moved on! Come forth Spring!) Maybe, now that I am committing to the couch for at least an hour or two I will read one of my new books (my favourite title of today’s bunch: Breaking Hearts: The Two Sides of Unrequited Love)
Speaking of matters of the heart, I scanned this picture and sonnet from a book in MJ’s collection called “The Poetry of Artists” or something like that (MJ has had this book since before she was MJ Fortuna–more than 40 years ago I’m estimating–so I’m having trouble locating it on Amazon).
Raphael Sonnet (click to enlarge)