California Far Niente


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“Do you know that joke about Inez moving to Ireland? Well the punch line is: she never did.”

California Far Niente

Yesterday I would have gone to Ireland, had I not quit my job. But I did, and to soften my lesson in humility, I was counting the hours yesterday in an exercise of Schadenfreude, inverted melancholy or whatever you want to call it, as in: this is when I would have left home with my two suitcases, wiping away a tear in Bart on my way to the airport; this is when I would have landed in Newark where I would have eaten an overpriced sandwich—this is when I would have arrived in Amsterdam, wandering about the terminal like a lost soul, waiting for my connecting flight to Cork.

Truth is, in this last week I have felt like a total and utter fraud; I gave a going-away party because I was going to drown myself in Guinness for two rain- and windswept years in Ireland. I said my goodbyes to some of the good friends who bothered to come to my Irish wake and then, no less than a month later, I am back, licking my wounds.

For what it’s worth, I want to thank all those friends who have reached out since and have professed their support regardless of what I did or would have done and I feel humbled by their generosity. You know who you are: thank you. I hope to return the favor, or as I have told my kids all these years: in order to have friends, you need to be a friend first.

I am also thankful that, even though I thought I was going to hit my California Far Niente, as I left my academic job and left my clients in Silicon Valley high and dry in favor of the Amazon minefield, I could circle back to my two major clients, Netflix and LinkedIn, and receive a steady flow of work from the day my work week started up again. Thank you, and a special thank you to my Netflix contact and colleague, a much nicer Belgian colleague than the one I left behind at Cal (clearly, I burned all my bridges there—see my post, but if you are interested: je ne regrette rien. We get burned sometimes for sticking to our principles, but staying in that job (another student came forward after I posted that post with an incident that happened as recently as last Spring) would have made me complicit in the murkiness of it all and I could not look at myself in the mirror anymore if I had done so).

So I am back in the New World—not quite the new woman I had hoped to become, but rejoicing in the mellowing of the light and heat that seems so typical of every California Fall I have experienced. I am not going to use the faddish word cleanse, and now I did it anyway, but expecting unemployment, I was going to get rid myself of all the excess clutter in our house, my life, my mental outlook. Started on the house and returned to my historical novel, the first chapter of which I posted also. Reconnected with Caroline, Jon, Will and god forbid: the dogs, and have felt blessed, not by God because I don’t know where the God is in ebola-ridden Africa and the terror and extremism of ISIS, but there is a blessing to be had in the people that surround us, the blessing of the here and the now, the blessing of the last sunlight dying behind that California hill and us being there to witness it. I ain’t Oprah nor do I aspire to be her, but I do believe in the positive force of life’s affirmations, of standing still and grasping, truly grasping that timeless moment that connects us with joys past, present and future. If we can no longer do that we have given up on life and ourselves. So California Far Niente it is, for better or for worse. Sending my love to all of you who have embraced me in a moment of need.

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