Thursday, May 25, 2006

Birthday Fireworks

So as some people figured out in the comments (thanks to Larry!), yesterday was my birthday. I'd gotten too busy with work and the symposium to really put together a party for myself. On Tuesday night, when I'd originally thought I was going to come home & start writing down some thoughts about the symposium (in a little more depth than "it was awesome"), I ended up at the office until way too late, due to somebody dumping a task of a type I'm usually given 2 weeks to do in my lap with 3 days' notice. At some point during the collection of data, I took a break & sent out an email to my paddling gang saying that I intended to paddle on Wednesday night, that I'd be at the barge at around 6 & that yes, it was my birthday & I'd enjoy having a celebratory burger & beer.

Wednesday found the work still piling on, though.

Around 5:00 it became obvious that the original plan wasn't going to happen, though. I'd been working flat out all day; I was tired, and the later the work day looked to be stretching, the more unhappy I was. I sent out a note to the gang that I wasn't going to make it (I probably wouldn't have been much fun to paddle with anyways). I decided I would just go home.

But the more I thought about that, the more I thought maybe I still needed to go paddling. Just solo, at my own speed, not too far, just to unwind - I was just feeling all angry & frustrated in a way that if I just went home, I was going to spend the rest of the evening stewing. Decided a paddle would probably be smarter.

I got to the pier just before sunset - went out with my lights already on. I decided to use my Greenland paddle since there wouldn't be any keeping-up issues while I fiddled around with the Greenland stroke (that one class back in February left me with lots still to learn on that front).

I headed south at a leisurely pace, trying to get the blade angle right, trying to convince my right hand to quit being the control hand, trying to recreate the sense of the correct stroke I'd had down in Florida. I hugged the pierhead line, ducking in and out of the embayments, working on the various turning strokes, trying out some of the BCU strokes, and took plenty of breaks to watch the sunset, or admire passing short, futzed around all the way down to the north end of Battery Park City. Once there, I hung out & kept practicing in the area just south of Pier 25. Not really focused, just noodling around, playing with the paddle, trying to see how quietly I could move while the sky darkened & the city lights started to shine on the water.

Paddling like that, the stress leaves fast. Your concentration is pulled from what a crappy day you had at work to the other boats around you, the movement of the current, the darkening of the sky...even had that been the end of the story, I would have gone home much happier after my time alone on the river. But then, just as I was getting ready to head back up to the pier, fireworks started to go off over Liberty Landing State Park. They went on for fifteen minutes. It felt like I was having my own private fireworks show!

Now that made what would have been a perfectly lovely post-work paddle feel like a proper celebration! Got back to the pier at 10 or so,thoroughly content with the evening.

Think I can face my cubicle again tomorrow. I'm so glad I went paddling instead of home to feel sorry for myself. I'm so happy it's spring & I can start being a little more flexible about my start times!

Back on the topic of the symposium - I didn't have much time to take pictures, but I did get a couple on the morning of the last day as I was walking down to the dining hall. here are a couple of the buildings at Camp Mariah, with Beaver Lake in the background. Not too bad, yeah?

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