In exactly three weeks from this moment, I will be sitting on the porch of my suite at the Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow Farm, slathered from forehead to heels in bug repellent, watching the sun set behind the Ozarks, contemplating the paper I will be researching and writing over the next four weeks. It is three weeks away, and yet it seems as far off as it did on that frigid January night when I opened up my e-mail and read “Congratulations! You are our 2004 fellow!”, as remote as Neptune, particularly when I am at LuthorCorp, talking to people all day long, saying absolutely nothing worth hearing.
These are odd days at LuthorCorp, a mix of weird, sad and uncertain. The company has hired a consultant. She is a friendly and pleasant woman, but I don’t really understand exactly why she is consulting for us, what the company is looking for, from her or from us, and thus her presence makes me the slightest bit edgy. Given the choice between edgy and sad, I’ll go with edgy, but unfortunately, we were not given the choice. One of the three salespeople I report to lost her brother over the weekend, an apparent heart attack at the age of 37. This morning I learned that one of our estimators died yesterday after a long illness; this afternoon I learned that our QA manager contracted a weird blood disease that almost killed him, and even though he is recovering, he is still far from better. Not quite as dire, but still sad to me, is this coming Friday’s departure of one of my favorite sales guys, a guy who has been with Funky Little Company for 10 years and in the industry for 17. He is a standup man, smart and funny, a lover of good food and an encyclopedia of music trivia, and when he leaves, yet another piece of the heart and soul of Funky Little Company will be gone, a vacuum that LuthorCorp will rush to fill, but will be unable to fill properly. My office buddy Mich and I have been exchanging haunted looks and murmuring about how this is it, the time is coming, the time is now, Marvin K. Mooney, can we please go now? Today we made a pact that by this time next year, we need to be working somewhere else.
Fortunately, at the very moment I really needed some good news, I got it. My excellent pal Goliard, creator of the much-missed silly girl, is blogging again at popcultureatemybrain. Do stop by and say hello to her. Do not miss the picture of her neighborhood gator. I also learned this week that one of my favorite baking books, The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion is the recipient of the James Beard Foundation’s 2004 Cookbook of the Year award. Check out the lovely picture of my dear friend and mentor, PJ Hamel, at the Beard Awards. On Sunday night, I was lucky enough to be invited to a stoop picnic on the Upper East Side, hosted by the kind and splendid Bunni and her neighbors, who offered me a place at a very welcoming table indeed, and fed me like a champ. And tomorrow I am having lunch with two friends from an e-mail group I belong to, friends who are in town for a conference, including one who is on her first trip to New York. It is at moments like this that I can look squarely at that lingering existential viral cloud and stare it down until it either slinks away sheepishly or shatters into a thousand fragments.
Dear friends, in exactly three weeks from this moment, I will be as alone as I’ve ever been in my entire life.