Detours on the Way to a Binge

Eleven months ago, in June 2013, I came to Pendle Hill for a weekend conference on the life and writings of Isaac Penington, one of the first generation of Quakers in the 17th century. After the conference ended on Sunday afternoon, I was able to tuck in a stay of an extra 36 hours to do some writing of my own on Choosing Miracles. It was time well spent. I was able to get some words out about a heartbreaking time of my life. Based on the responses of my beta readers, I managed to do so with some economy and without too much self-indulgence. And then did life take an amazing turn!

I’d been home about a week when, from the next room, Bowen said, “Huh. This is odd. I seem to have an e-mail from Google. They want me to call them.”

“What is it?” I said. “Some kind of prank or spam or phishing thing?”

“No,” he answered. “It seems to be legitimate. They saw my resume on LinkedIn and they think I might belong there.”

And so, after a screening call, a few phone interviews, a day of coding sessions, several lunches, and more phone interviews, Bowen was hired by Google in mid-September as a senior staff software engineer. He resigned his position as a teaching adjunct in late September, took six weeks off to get rested and organized, and began working for Google in the New York office in November.

I’m still moving back and forth between Peekskill and Manhattan, but now we have a regular schedule. In on Monday mornings on the 9:15, back to Peekskill Friday night on the 5:35, 6:35, or 7:21. Commuting takes less energy now that we have an established rhythm. Now the energy is going into learning how to support my partner in his high-level job. How can I make life as easy as it can be around the times that he’s not coding or thinking about code? What can I put on the table for dinner? And most of all, what can I throw out, give away, take to the Housing Works thrift store, or shred next in order to free up more room for us in my 400-square-foot studio apartment where we spend Monday through Thursday nights?

I am amazed to find how much of my past accumulations I can let go of when I feel like I have a new future!

I have been thinking about this blog, and wanting to get back to it, and wanting to get back to Choosing Miracles, but Google life comes first . . . for now. It comes first because something else has happened. After more than thirty years of supporting myself as a freelance proofreader, the work has disappeared. In January my two major clients reorganized, doing away with the departments that contracted me. In one month, 50 percent of my income disappeared. I have other clients. Work is coming in at the end of this month. But for the first time in decades I’m not self-supporting. The same technology that’s taking away my livelihood is providing my partner with a salary ample enough to take care of both of us and his four children and their college educations.

It’s a loss for me of identity, of independence. It’s a gain for me of energy. Much less splitting myself between straightening out other people’s words and writing down my own.

And now here I am at Pendle Hill again after eleven months. And blogging again after how long . . . ? And why? Because of Google! Bowen and I drove down from New York today, he dropped me here, then he went to the Philadelphia airport for a flight to San Francisco and his first visit to Mountain View, California, Google’s main office. While he meets his coding colleagues in Silicon Valley, I go on my longest binge yet at Pendle Hill. I’m clear to write until Friday morning. I’ve got to get myself and my readers through a dark and painful piece of my life. There’s no better place to face up to that work than here. 

How many words can I get out by Friday?

 

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Detours on the Way to a Binge

  1. Yes, write, write all you can while there’s no editing around to disturb you. Editing and writing never did mix for me. In fact, I just spent the last couple of weeks with lots of technical editing and lost my prose style to the serial commas and verb-subject agreement. Even e-mail was beyond me.
    What birds visit Pendle Hill?

    • There are birds here, Fannie. I can hear them. And there are many wonderful trees in which they’re fluttering about. But I didn’t bring binoculars so I can’t see them. Frustrating. (As are some other things going on here between me and my laptop.) What do we do now that we can no longer ball up a piece of paper and throw it across the room? I think my version of that now is go play online Scrabble and let the .doc file cool its heels and wait for my return, whereupon I expect it to behave better!

  2. Just finished reading the above (blog and comments). Ditto comments posted; however, fyi: the best of the Penn fight songs is “Hang Jeff Davis from a sour-apple tree/ down went McGinty (sp.?) to the bottom of the sea…” I like the first line a lot. I have no idea how or when I learned this strange ditty. Allan will probably know.

  3. Love discovering this blog. I always admired what you wrote. You were thoughtful and deep when I was day dreaming about life. I still do, but am an activist and have had a child centered/educator life at the preschool and elementary school levels. Teenagers, too. And I think I am as faith centered as you are – Presbyterian style.

    I remember the song when you start it, Susan, but can’t finish it. I think it comes under the category of “fight song.”

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