September 2005
I’m thinking about dishsoap tonight.  Not exactly dishsoap, but more exactly the best way to remind myself that I need to pick some up.  Dishsoap doesn’t even approach being ‘on the radar’ these days.  Ya, so I need to pick up dishsoap.  I have a few dribbles left.  That will probably last me for another couple weeks with the amount of dishes I wash that way.  It isn’t something that stays or even pops up in my ever-fluid head on the way home.  So, do I put a reminder in my computer/pda calendar?  Do I leave a note on my desk?  What about one at home in the way out the door?  What are the chances that an appropriate store will be open when I’m leaving home or work and see the note, never mind if I can sidetrack myself and my head by a few blocks to get there?

I’m sitting on my favourite patio in Seattle.  Perched in a little brick alleyway tucked down by the market.  Perched in Post Alley, in fact.  Café Campagne: Peter’s frequent computational dining experience.  The wait staff handle it well.  I was ‘the guy with the laptop’ for a while.  Simplistically French café feel, warm ambience, good food, small place, magical lighting, especially late at night.  I love how the market area empties out at night.  A few people walking around for food, but mostly it feels like just me and the bricks.  It’s especially savoury after the mayhem of the day, with hundred (thousands?) of people flocking through, cameras and heels clicking, cars fruitlessly rumbling along the bricks in search of parking.  Quiet is a hard thing to find downtown, and the Café resembles some sort of sanctuary for me.  I value quiet.  It lets me work on quieting the chatter in my head.  When it’s noisy, I don’t hear it as much, but it still pesters my thought process.  My head doesn’t seem to stop.  Last night I rode my bike to a friend’s music gig.  After a beautiful starry ride home at 2am, I filled up the back of an envelope with the to-do-soon items floating around in my head.  I look forward to the day when I don’t need something around me at all times to record my thoughts.

I went for a ride today on Bainbridge Island.  Another chunk of sanctuary, once you get outside the ferry terminal town.  I needed some space, some headspace as well as quiet space.  Noise from the bar up the street from the QFD’s 8th floor office has been bugging me recently.  Same sound, every night.  The quiet space gave me a chance to think and quietly contemplate the next moves, to reset myself as we approach another couple months of mayhem at QFD.  The New York office is set to open in mere days, Seattle is screaming along, and I’m slowly catching up on my financial education just in time to plunge into year end.  Sometimes I step back and ask myself “did I really sign up for this?”  Whence came the ambition to run a multi-national multi-office consulting firm?

I spend a lot of my time consolidating, cleaning.  I clean my email inbox as fast as I can, but seemly slower than it fills.  I clean the clothes off my studio floor that get shucked there each night to be randomly pawed through in the morning for cards, keys, and cash.

  I clean my desk off, trying to sort through the paperwork and bits and pieces and multiple computers to find a starting point to deal with it all.  The piles get sorted, cleaned, re-sorted, re-piled and quickly buried.  I’ve a large enough desk; it used to be a hallway door in the space we transformed into QFD Seattle.  Maybe if I hung the desk like a door again the piles wouldn’t stick and I could avoid dealing with them.

I keep wanting those parts of my life to stay clean, to stay sorted, but it seems that entropy applies to my life just as well as it applies to nature.  I want them to stay clean so I can move on to the other options, the other possibilities that await me, but it seems I’ve signed up for something that doesn’t recognize that.  I don’t like being constrained, directed.  I prefer to be able to react and take advantage of whatever possibilities float across my nose or that I can dream up.  Having chaos around doesn’t lend itself to chasing those options.  I hoard my freedom, not buying lots of stuff that takes up space and time, not signing up for a life that needs a big car or a big house, not having a job that requires lots of clothes, not having pets that I can’t feel okay about leaving alone.  That freedom, those options, those possibilities are everything.  In many ways, I’ve over committed on that freedom to QFD.  My life is ruled by QFD right now.  As a result, I under-commit elsewhere.  Keeping my floors as dirty (grab-and-go closet technology?) or clean as I feel without the pressure of cleaning for entertaining.  I keep my possessions few so that I don’t have more things that I see and process and think about.  An interesting part of my ‘move’ to Seattle was watching which parts of my life I brought with me, what I pared the important bits down to.  Bikes and biking gear.  Camera gear and some photos for the walls.  Clothes.  Stereo and music.  Minimal bathroom stuff – contacts, glasses, hair clippers, toothbrush.  A partially random set of my mom’s dishes and cutlery.  An eggbeater.  A Canadian flag.  And of course, my computer with all of its contact information and other stored knowledge.  I did a couple month-long camping trips a while (a decade!) ago.  Everything we needed fit in 80 pound packs.  Everything.  We only had two re-rations.  Could I fit everything I ‘need’ today in an 80-lb pack?  Maybe.  Pretty hard to fit an apartment in a backpack.  I’m not sure I could transition to cardboard, even though it could fit.

That ride on Bainbridge today helped me reset my head so I can think more clearly about chasing those options, those possibilities.  Both inside and outside QFD.  I’ve started to learn how to think outside QFD as the ruling entity in my life and figure out how QFD can (hopefully) open options instead of close them.  That’s slowly coming, as QFD gains a state of health, it’s own momentum.  We’re still too small and I still work too many hours to be free from that rule, but at least it isn’t total and utter rule with the Dark Ages outside.  I was outside today, and it wasn’t dark.  There were trees and houses and plants and the sea.  And even dirt paths.

It’s good to see the world is still revolving.

Peter Newbury's Published Adventures