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48 Supervision June–December 2011 I return to the United States with renewed thanks for the blessings in my life. Abby graduates from the University of Massachusetts and lands a job in the Infectious Disease Lab of Massachusetts General Hospital. Andy receives a summer internship studying turtle habitats for NOAH in the Florida Everglades. I do everything required to move the three Haiti projects forward, but given their fitful march, weeks go by without requiring any architectural input. My stateside projects plod along, but after witnessing life’s immediacy in Haiti, I find little satisfaction in contributing to America’s ever-expanding, often excessive, healthcare system. My last trip was tumultuous; I am in no rush to return to the magic island, yet Haiti etches a craving that my everyday existence cannot satisfy. My restlessness leads to a personal indulgence. Every summer, I visit my brother and sister in Colorado, and we ride the Courage Classic, a three-day cycling rally through the Rocky Mountains to benefit Children’s Hospital Colorado. This year, I decide to use that ride as the starting point for a bicycle odyssey. I negotiate leave from work, fly to Colorado, buy a touring bike, ride over the mountains with my siblings, and then cycle, on my own, all the way home. I cover three thousand miles in seven weeks on a circuitous route that takes me down to Oklahoma City, across the Ozarks, up the Ohio River, diagonal from Cincinnati to Cleveland , around Lake Erie to Buffalo, and alongside the Erie Canal. I savor the two-lane roads and vintage motels. I eat like a teenager; spinning through seventy miles a day lets me indulge in chicken 49 Supervision fried steak, barbecue beef on pretzel rolls, and Chinese buffets with abandon. I arrive home a few pounds lighter with shapely legs and a new appreciation for the wonders of America. After Labor Day I return to work and feign interest in my projects, but recollections of Haiti’s grit and road cycling render office work tedious. I drift in vague dissatisfaction until fate intervenes in a tragic but potent way. Architecture is a boom and bust profession; work fluctuates dramatically in step with the economy. The 2008 recession hit TRO JB hard, right after a merger and expansion. My position remained secure—healthcare specialists are always in demand— but when an organization contracts, friction results. I’m oblivious of any discord, a sign of my disengagement, until one Monday morning in early November when an edict from a renegade group of principal stockholders demands a no-confidence vote on our CEO. Everyone must take notice, and take sides. A week of bitter intrigue ensues; tense stockholder meetings and senior-level firings. The protagonists in the drama forge an uneasy truce and restructure the firm in a manner that strikes me as expedient but unsustainable. The office becomes a treacherous place yet, as in any power struggle, it is ripe with opportunity. I decide against stepping into the vacuum. Witnessing people I respect behaving badly and seeing people I value get fired leaves me with a sour taste. I decide to pursue fresh prospects. At Thanksgiving I announce to friends and family that I am looking for new opportunities . The recent bitterness makes me question whether to continue practicing architecture. My mind bends in new and unconsidered directions. I’m not someone who dwells on the finances of life. I have simple tastes. There’s always enough money to do what I want with some left over. I don’t follow the stock market or have a financial advisor; my retirement planning consists of depositing the maximum allowed into a 401K. I am as slow to fathom financial realities as emotional ones. But balances accumulate and one morning I acknowledge a new truth—I don’t need to work anymore. College tuition is in the rearview mirror; my children’s biggest expenses are behind me. I paid off the four-family house I bought twenty years ago; rents from the three units beyond the party wall cover my regular expenses. For four years I’ve redirected my take home 50 Architecture by Moonlight pay to savings and never touched a dime. I must not need that paycheck. This reality strikes me one autumn morning, but it generates no more excitement than I take in selecting a matching shirt and tie. I don’t vet the numbers with a retirement specialist or attend a money seminar; my...


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MARC Record
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