Monday, April 30, 2012

A Walk in the City


Auckland - The City of Sails
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
I love cites in the morning. Marching through the brisk air with a spring in my step and head buzzing with ideas for what I want to accomplish, it is finally time to admit that I missed this. I still pine for the people we left behind in the States, but most of the life we precipitously abandoned causes me no pain of loss. But this... these cool mornings in a city just waking up, the air fresh from sea breezes, the sky almost painfully blue, the commuters all around pushing through the crowds with feet on auto-pilot while they check email on their phones, the busses rumbling by and the cars getting jammed up at the corners. This city is so familiar, and this walk is reminiscent of hundreds of similar mornings in That Life. The one part of that life I unequivocally loved was going to work downtown with people I absolutely adored, respected, savored.

I play a game as I walk, people watching and trying to match the outfits with their job description. The women are easy, the young ones in tight little outfits with costume jewelry say new to the business world, probably working as assistants, clerks, receptionists. While the wiser, older women in the same outfit are much sleeker, the gold and gemstones real, the shoes fine tooled leather and the overall look so much more polished in a way that says management or executive. Males in New Zealand are either white colar in blue, black or grey suits, open dress shirt of a light color and faint pin stripe, no tie, leather shoes, or they are blue colar and sport some form of flourescent vest. Sprinkled throughout are the geeks -- the IT professionals are an entire gender-less class in expensive jeans, software branded t-shirts, ear buds firmly lodged under hair cuts that are inevitably at least a month past their prime. There are a few students either young enough for school uniforms or scruffly shlepping their way to University. They are hard to distinguish from an entire subdivision of the service sector on their way to retail shops. The baristas are, of course, already in place as are all the many newly arrived entrepreneurs who have opened Korean, Thai, sushi, curry, and Chinese food shops all over the city.

It amuses me to wonder what I am saying to the world with the look I sport this morning. The rough, tattered backpack says tourist or college student, but the iPhone says money and the expensive leather boots say management. The wash and wear haircut, no jewelry, no makeup put me squarely in the old-school feminist camp but the gawdy tanzanite and diamond ring DrC likes me to wear is so girly it messes with my dyke groove. But the strongest signal I send this morning is probably the jeans and t-shirt look.

A confession... During those dot-com boom and bust days when I was a pregnant, tech writing matron, it's true that I found it delightful to watch the eye candy of Hbunny, Noey and Greg parading around in their artfully aged, insanely expensive jeans. The boys (and they were boys at the time even if now they are quite clearly attractive men who would balk at the diminutive) were appealing in a way that a mother, wife and manager should not ever admit. So yes, they are the inspiration for my current outfit. Because it's 10 years later, and I can't resist painting these pants on to my newly sleek legs. Every time I pull on a size 10, I chortle and preen. I strut through the city with the slight bell sliding over my black, pointed boot toe and like to think that I am even half as sexy as my lovely young friends were in the same styles. Of course, the very fact that I am hiking up Queen Street in jeans that cost roughly the same as a smartphone screams tech.

Aquarium - The Toast Mermaid

Aquarium - The Toast Mermaid
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
A casual people watcher might be confused about the mixed signals I send with my basic tech mixed with executive and college student look. That's okay. Frankly, I'm confused, too. I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Part of me wants to stay scruffy, barely off the boat and picking up the occasional contract to plump the cruising kitty. Another part wants to dive hell-bent into the management career track I left in Seattle. I love telling other people what to do. As with my clothes, the only clear signal my heart is sending my head is tech tech tech. I want to stay in software and hardware development if I can. I love the gadgets and the newness and the constant change and the insane schedules. I like the sexy young engineers who don't know they are sexy because they are so frickin' smart and so incredibly dorky. I want the bleeding edge crap that breaks every time I work with it and sales teams who straddle some strange line between engineer and carnival barker. I love the feeling that I know what's going on in a world that most people find necessary to their very lives but completely incomprehensible. I want to crawl back into the black box.

My pack weighs heavily on my back, chock full of a Windowsian brick, power cords, and a newly emptied to-go mug as I turn the corner on the last stretch to my client. Today, I get to restructure a single-source database for a software company in the business of electronic medical records. It's a start in the right direction. Passers-by can attribute my little smile as amusement at the podcast feed trickling into my ears, but I know it's because I'm exactly where I want to be.

1 comment:

Carol Morrison said...

Toast - I sort of know how you feel. Guess my parents did not instill a sense of self worth based entirely on child rearing and cooking 3 meals a day. I love being with Josh on the boat, but I also love when a policy comes together that makes sense for the end user and then learning how to post it on our website. Very cool and fun in a "you are crazy" sort of way.