Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Squint Test

My week started out innocently enough. I had a pending assignment from a long-time client to wrap up (or at least move to the next level) a matter we'd handled, at least initially, about 18 months ago, and it had appeared on the horizon quickly and suddenly without much warning. So once Monday morning arrived, I knew the matter would need my focus.

Throughout the day, I was dealing on and off with it, but because of the variety of players involved in the actual deal, I was getting a lot of misinformation and confusion, contradiction and elaboration. Couple that with the fact that the people central to this matter had never before engaged in this type of business venture, and I was handling a cast of characters who were confrontational, uninformed amateurs. Ideally, not the best way to commence a work-week.

So as Monday faded and evolved into Tuesday, more of the proverbial shit was hitting the fan. Early Tuesday I had a pretty jarring conversation from one of the players, a long-time guy with whom we've literally done hundreds of these types of deals. He was nervous, concerned and -- in connection with this matter, anyway -- prone to overreaction. So when he flipped out on me before I even began my commute to the office, I tried to let it slide. And so by the time yesterday disappeared into the past, I had most of it under control. There's still a third or more of the project, at least on our end, that needs to be handled, and the pressure is still palpable, but not nearly as much as it was the day or the week prior. But it reminded me that, despite our business not literally involving life-or-death decisions (ie like emergency-room doctors, surgeons, etc.) people do get incredibly lathered up when there are six figures involved. Understandably, of course -- but when you combine a lack of knowledge with confusion, cross-opinion and a large amount of money, and then multiply it by the number of interested/involved parties, things do tend to get a bit sticky.

As I worked through the bulk of this situation, I was regularly -- here and there -- in touch with my other half. She actually helped to keep me sane and to see the end of the tunnel, although I was pretty much in that zone without her involvement. But I didn't really understand how much she helped keep me at even keel -- which is a state I am almost perpetually situated -- until I was talking with her in the early evening, prior to leaving for the day, and I found myself smiling despite the chaos and the rancor that had defined the last 48 hours of this project. And the one thing that makes me smile was knowing, despite all the excitement I was navigating, that I actually was able to, for a moment, step outside myself and see how much she was helping me cope.

I suppose that's not much of a revelation, and I make every attempt to fill that same role when her corporate adventures -- deadlines, missing information, finger-pointing -- reach fever pitch. But it's a testament to her, as well as a statement of where I've been, that she is able to keep me calm, focused and smiling no matter how violent the storm swirling all around me. I hopefully was able to express to her my gratitude. And what really impressed me was that she knew -- and knows -- my sensibilities, for the most part, almost exclusively keep level as if maintained by gyroscope -- and yet she still was able to inject some sanity, calm and happiness into a day or two that could have very well gone without. It's a fine line: keeping someone happy in a completely maddening situation without overstepping one's bounds. And she walked it -- that proverbial, ever-changing line -- with aplomb, grace, skill and generosity.

Needless to say, reflecting back on it, I keep smiling and wondering how I got so lucky.


Break up the Yankees! After the first few weeks of the season brought nothing but losing, the Yankees went from being a doormat to returning to their form of several years ago. As of last night, they won their fourth straight behind the strong pitching of a young Taiwanese import, Chien-Ming Wang. Couple that with the story Tino Martinez, the former Yankee first baseman who was unceremoniously replaced by Jason Giambi two years ago. Tino Martinez was brought back to the Yankees in the off-season as a backup to Giambi. Unfortunately, since Jason Giambi's struggles (his off-season admission that he -- sort of -- used steroids and his awful, awful hitting) continue, Tino stepped in and has homered at least once in each of the last four games. The ballpark is alive and the culture of losing, which defined the team over the first few weeks of the young season, is hardly a memory.

I continue to exchange e-mails with my other half's dad. We were discussing the aforementioned Taiwanese pitcher, Chien-Ming Wang (who I refer to in my e-mails to him as Wang Chow Mein) and every e-mail from her dad is a veritable smorgasbord of humor, baseball memories and perspective on "the game within a game." He's very complimentary and I know he's enjoying the back-and-forth as much as I am, but as we continue this correspondence, I see why his daughter turned out so wonderfully. I haven't spoken much to his wife, ie Kaia's mom, but she too seems great. And with my upcoming trip to San Fran, I realize that the first meeting of her parents seems less and less like a test and more like the chance to spend time with good people.

I remember a friend of my family's, who is about ten years younger than my dad, recently told me that the best way to understand what kind of person your significant other will become later in life is to look at her parents and combine the best and the worst of their personalities. He called it the "squint" test, and he said it never failed him. So try as I might to squint and examine the situation, I can't help but feel that, whether I am squinting or my eyes are wide open, I have reason to smile. And as The Beatles once sang, things are getting better all the time.

1 comment:

Kaia said...

Sweetie - I love you.

That was so lovely - i'm glad you feel i'm there for you as much as you are here for me. It just works. Lucky, lucky us.

Meow - K