Fog’s rollin’ in. Like a shroud it covers Congress Street.

Klapatche Park – Mt. Rainier: from

Today I stepped out of my old brick building consumed with the problems and challenges of an office-worker with cubicle and projects to bring in on budget. I turned the corner to cross the Fort Point Channel and watched the low-riding wave of a cloud break across the sky-scrapers of the financial district in the Hub of the Universe. For a moment, foot-fast and bustled on every side, I was transported to Klapatche Park on Mt. Rainier. One trip, as we ascended the vast mountain, we arrived at this long sought and often missed site at the same time a determined cloud did. Although some of the finest scenery in the world was being covered by that cloud, I was struck motionless watching the vast wave of cloud crash over the banks of the mountain, swarming the walls like determined soldiers heedless of survival. The motion, the energy of those clouds stayed with me still.

Today I watched those self-same clouds, or their sisters, break across the monoliths of capitalism in the storied ancient city on the Atlantic. I thought, for a moment, how proud, how special those drops of water must be to touch those soaring buildings. Of all the water in the world, THEY were the ones dancing around the marble-dewed palaces of One International Place and the State Street Financial Center.

But then I realized, in a dizzying turnabout, where else those water molecules might have been in their journey.

They came to us, those dancing particles of mist, through fire and ice. Some were born as the molten core of the new world cooled. Others journeyed through distance stars and long milennia of darkness in the hearts of comets – only to smash against a planet, water droplets like the broken pieces of chandeliers scattering on impact. Those fog banks nurtured the first complex compounds. They supported the first gasping explorers on land with pools and puddles. In the hot ages of the earth, they steamed around the swirling feet of animals unwitnessed by human eye. Those droplets were locked up for a thousand thousand years in a timeless icebank. They explored the depths of the ocean, marvels in the dark pressure that will forever escape our knowing. They were trapped quietly under continents, rolling through limestone caves. They have lived a million lives, passing ten million times through the beating hearts of creatures from the humblest to the mightiest. Perhaps that water ran through the channels of civilizations unknown, who did not build in rock for us to remember. Perhaps that cloud, there, witnessed the rising up of the silent sentinels of Easter Island. Perhaps that water was lifted by a hyssop branch on a sponge to a parched and dying man. Perhaps it was an iceburg, unseen, calved in the North Atlantic in the path of the maiden voyage of a mighty ship. A thousand moments in history, known and unknown, this water has coursed through. Or perhaps, over its long voyage, this is its first encounter with any human history at all.

It is not the water that should be proud to writhe around our mighty buildings, our great civilization, our high towers. It is we who should be humble before this water which has come from the beginnings of our time, passed through our ancestors and and ancestor’s ancestors, and yet is unchanged in its tendrils, habits and majesty. It endures and persists. It may be in constant motion, or content to stand still for uncounted ages. Witnessed, unwitnessed. Noticed, unnoticed. Remarked or unremarked.

Today that water danced in the city, swooping low above the heads of the distracted, the busy, the self-important. And we did not attend it. It did not care, because it does not exist for our approbation.

Changing the rules

In everyone’s life there are periods of lesser and greater stasis. For example, when you are a parent to an infant, nothing stays the same and nothing can be relied upon. The minute you’ve figured out how somethings works and what you’re supposed to be doing, it changes. On the other hand, I just went through a period where things were chaotic within well expected and known bounds. Lots of activity, but little change. I knew what I needed to do, even if I didn’t have enough time to do it all.

Then I switched jobs.

It’s funny, but so far it’s not the job that has me on my toes, it’s the commute. The bad news is that the commute is rather worse than I was hoping for. For those of you in the area, I’m trying to get from Stoneham to just south of the Children’s Museum in South Boston. The best option I’ve found so far is the 354 Express bus. It stops less than a mile from my house, and then goes directly in to State Street. From State Street it’s a mile’s walk through the city to my office. (Almost exactly. The horizontal distance is 9/10 of a mile, and then I climb five flights of stairs.) Walking, it takes me 15 – 20 minutes depending on how I catch the lights. Optimally, this would be a 40 minute commute. However, when the traffic is bad (which it often is, in my narrow survey), it can take me more than 80 minutes to get in to work. Driving, I get caught in the same traffic (although I don’t have the 20 minute walk), with the added disadvantage of not being able to take the carpool lane. The T was my first plan, but here would be all the steps in that: 1) Drive to Malden station (15 min?) 2) Park at parking lot 3) Walk from parking lot to T (5 mins), 4) Take Orange Line to Downtown Crossing? (China Town, NE Medical Center?) 5) Walk from there (.5 of a mile?). That’s a very multi stage commute, and also rather expensive, paying for parking and a T pass.

So, hrm. The good part is that when I spend 40 minutes on the bus, I get to do a lot of reading. It’s also a good napping environment (based on my comrades in bus), because there are no stops. I get off when the bus stops, along with almost everyone else. The bad thing about a bus commute is you live in constant fear of being late. That and the straight up time it takes.

With the actual job bit, I’m still in the “reading documentation” phase. I thought I’d gotten through most of the extant documentation in the company, but someone just showed me the repository where all the previous documents created by my group are kept, so I now have plenty to keep me busy. In my early analysis, however, everything seems like it should work out nicely!

Kindergarten is a bit like starting a new job, with the context switching. You are presented with new problems that your baby days had not prepared you for. For example, my son came home with a pledge form for the “Jumprope for the heart” fundraiser. I actually remember this one from MY days in grade school, back when I rode a brontosaurus to school every morning (uphill both ways barefoot!). They’ve watered it down. When I was a kid, people pledged per jump. So $.02 a jump, and then you jumped as many times as you could and ended up collecting $1.20 before you gave up. There’s no such incentive for hard work in this one, it’s just a straight “Give us money form” (now with convenient web links!). So what do I do? Do we personally just sign up for the t-shirt level? Do I offer this tremendous opportunity to the suckers, uh, I mean, grandparents of said children? Aunts and uncles? Blogosphere? What is the etiquette here… the cross between being a good PTO parent, a good citizen, and not completely obnoxious?

I still haven’t figured this one out, but would be curious what you think.