To hate the way everything needs to be "calendered," the way that my free time tends to be parted-out in snatches here and there. These days I get the greatest sense of relaxation and freedom-from-commitment when I have exactly nothing scheduled. I can have things planned, just not scheduled. Knowing that I have to get something done, or go here or there, at some point over a weekend is not as bad as knowing that I have three successive "appointments" which will consume my entire Saturday.
Call it my internal protest against how wall-to-wall we tend to book ourselves. Even leisure can loom like an obligation if it's very neatly planned to occur in the three hours between the trip to Home Depot to replace a screen and the promise you made to help a buddy replace a dishwasher. It's also partly my strange obsessive notions about time and getting things done. I like to be done with something. When I'm finished with something I like to take step back, admire it, and enjoy a quick moment of zero-obligation.
At work I'm usually booked in thirty-minute increments, and more often than not my entire day will be a series of quick-turns between the current meeting and the next. Over and over again, each minute of lateness becoming additive with successive obligations and no breaks in between. It's not rare that by 4:30pm I'm running a full 7min behind and I've still not had a spare moment to answer email or make a phone call. Sounds silly to say this is tiring when there are guys digging pools all day in Florida, but it is.
And so work has soured me on the whole thing. Even if the obligation is to go somewhere and have a good time, I'll sometimes be put-off by the "deadline." Silly, huh?
You! Don't fret!
These days, the ones where you work twelve or thirteen hours, these days are going to pay off. OK maybe not in dollars. Or maybe not in respect or position or stature, either. OK what then? Self-respect? Don't think so. Personal satisfaction; yeah that's got to be it. Some Eagle Scout sense of selfless fulfillment. Maybe if it was thirteen hours in a soup kitchen. Thirteen hours, a daily 1/100,000th of a hundredth of a dollar change in stock price. OK so yeah it's not all toil and not a scrap of enjoyment. The chase; the race; the smugness of high performance.
More and more I want to steal some time back and writing gives me that. If I'm sitting here writing I'm not working or thinking about work. More: I've been wanting to write. I get home and I think about what I might write. I email one-line ideas to myself when I'm on the go. Motivation is a strange thing. Did you know that during the "break" this year, the one I may or may not still be on, I let the ten year anniversary of this blog pass silently by? Earlier in the year I had big plans for that September date... was going to do some big self-indulgent "look back" kind of feature... go all out. Alas, it came and went unnoticed whilst I wasn't writing.
Like I said, thought to day about how I wanted to write tonight; wrote tonight. To me that's good.
We're off, traveling again for weeks running, this weekend. Away from work for a while. Look for me.
Happy Tuesday, people of the internet. Welcome to the place where I'm trying to write again.
Worked from home today, mostly out of fear that yesterday's stomach bug might'nt have fully passed through my system. Seems like it was an overly-cautious move, as it's back to normal in the bowel movement department and I'm craving spicy burritos again. There are times where I've been sick in the past and wondered, "Could that have been food poisoning?" This time, I knew it was food poisoning.
It's OK. Despite being on meetings all day, working from home, or "WFH" as we say, can have perks. Take for example the fact that, until sometime between noon and 1pm at least, I was able to work with the house thrown open and fresh air all around me. More, I situate myself next to the sliding door into the backyard and get direct sun from about 9am onward. You know, thinking about it, I haven't had a shirt on all day. Counting the hours I was asleep last night, that means I've been free from the shackles of the foreign textile industry now for almost thirty hours now - a feat for a modern American (at least from the waist up). Also kinda rad to have done all my business meetings shirtless.
Cavemen conducted all their business shirtless, too. Braining other cavemen, spearing fish, dragging cavewomen by the hair for coitus; all sans their Hanes. Today I talked about frequency domain simulations, shirtless. Never before have I been so close to my neanderthal kin. One blood, cavemen; one blood.
I was due to start work yesterday, fresh from seven weeks away.
It's not that I was nervous about going back to work... but a bit hesitant about diving in and trying to drink from the firehose. Didn't matter, in the end, as I came upon a jury duty summons while sifting through the pile of mail which accrued during our holiday. So I sat there today, reading, working on Keaton's last video, thinking. I thought a lot about the trip; how lucky we were to be able to take it, how smoothly it went, how it managed to change my perspective just a bit. To a degree, I think I was wanting to run away from normal... run away and take shelter in the little family we've built. Being there, hidden away in a box just the four of us, was blissfully awesome. To function so highly together, to enjoy our own company... something about it was almost therapeutic. Sorry, I could talk about it for paragraphs. I'll stop.
So I whiled away the day at the county courthouse. I met a woman, I figure she was about 300lbs, although I'm not sure how here weight is relevant. She was complaining bitterly about the whole thing. "I don't know why they keep us so long," she lamented. "They ain't never gonna pick me, my husband is a convicted felon and my dad was too." This left me, not being a guy who runs with many felons, lacking a proper response. It's so tempting, to slip into some least-common-denominator type conversation. I could've said, "I watched a Dateline about felons once," or, "I learned about felonies in Civics class," y'know, to establish some common ground. Instead I just found myself slightly sad that she was registered to vote. For new readers, here's the part of almost every paragraph I write where I go back and dilute my own writing by playing devil's advocate: In the end I shouldn't be too critical though, I don't know that woman - she could be a heavyset saint who just keeps bad company.
Being on the road and not writing regularly felt odd, good-odd, but I like writing. Double-down then, back to the keyboard and blank page and trying to bang out some good reading - things have been mundane. Stupid brain turns vacations into "being behind" upon return. Fix this and get back to that and do this so that can be all ready. First-world problems... flowing like the clean, potable water which flows unabated from the five taps in my house's central plumbing. Malaria? They cured that, right? That one president invented a vaccine, I think.
Holy crap internet peoples. Today is the day. At 5pm today I'll be done with work for seven weeks. Seven weeks!
I can scarcely comprehend it at this point. It still doesn't feel real. I went out for beers with a friend tonight, we needed to catch-up, been too long. We had a few drinks and talked about things and now I'm back home listening to Sonic Youth's "Teenage Riot" on repeat. A masterpiece of early indie which emotes perfectly where I'm at right now. Seven weeks! Today the RV place called me to let me know they were "readying" our coach; cleaning, preparing, tuning. It was just another sign; an earthquake or a plague of locusts or the seas turned red as blood. The tip is nigh! Noah knew, so can you!
What's more, around 1pm today I stopped what I was doing at work and took stock for minute to realize... I was done. My mile-long list, my ambitious pre-trip to-dos, everything: finished. All done one day early. A whole day to spare. A giddy feeling overcame me as I realized that I'd done it - I'd bested almost all of the guilt over leaving by getting things done and readied and left in the best state possible for my absence. As we shirts at the sawmill are fond of saying, I did my "due diligence." And I was proud. Proud that I didn't short-time the whole thing, proud that I gave my best until the last, proud that I wasn't "abandoning" things without at least giving them a push in the right direction.
We pickup the vehicle Friday morning. Our friends are throwing us a farewell fête that same evening which I am very much looking forward to, and am planning to actually drive the RV to. Saturday is pack-up the vehicle day. The plan for Sunday, departure day, is to drive the thing to church for early service and then actually hit the road immediately afterward. From God's parking lot then, it begins with just one step. I am nervous and excited and thrilled to have enough time away from work to truly forget and disconnect. That... that I am looking forward to.
Enough three-beer writing... it never looks as good in the morning anyway.
Goodnight folks and goodbye work.
Next blog here should be from the road... Keaton's blog will be updated before that.
Happy Tuesday internet. It's gonna be another humdinger for me.
The friend Sharaun had lined-up to watch Keaton and Cohen Monday so I could go into work called Sunday evening to tell me that her own kid was sick. Fever, up-chucking, the whole nine yards. Without any time to secure alternate options, I fell on my sword and decided to try and do the whole workday from home with both kids. This, friends, is not easy - particularly if you have a precious four workdays left before leaving for seven weeks and need every minute to be bursting with productivity. I did my best, and would say I was about 85% as good as I could've been at my desk.
Keaton, bless her, truly bless her, helped me entertain Cohen. In exchange I delegated her parenting to Disney cartoons, computer time, and coloring. I felt bad about it, but I had no choice in the matter. Thankfully she handled it well and really did manage to keep herself busy (and not all of it was in front of the TV, either... she played dollhouse and colored and even spent some time practicing reading). She can be an absolute angel when she wants to. With the exception of the thirty minutes between noon and 12:30pm I had meetings all day. My ears hurt from the earbuds I use to take calls (Bluetooth is terrible; never works and is too much trouble, wired is where it's at). Cohen also behaved, napping when I needed to chair meetings and eating well when I could borrow time to feed him.
Around 10am Sharaun called and let me know she missed her flight out of Miami and there was a chance she'd not make it home until Tuesday (today as you read, I know it's confusing but I write a day in advance). Luckily that didn't happen because, man, I couldn't do another one of these days. Not to mention, I really couldn't; I absolutely have to be in the office Tuesday through Thursday. Thursday - my last day. Holy crap Thursday, which is three day from now, is my last day for seven weeks. Seven weeks on the road. Seven weeks to let my mind wander. Seven weeks. Oh man, I am ready. I am counting down. Battling the mainspring and winning for once.
Hey friends and readers who don't like me.
It's Monday we are at t-minus 13 days until the big trip. From a work perspective this means that I'm at t-minus 9 days (I'm taking that last Friday off to pick up the vehicle). If I find more time to write between now and then, you'll likely hear me come back to this theme again and again. Y'know, the "Oh Lord I only have X days left to get this all done!" with a , "Oh Lord I only have X-1 days left to get this all done!" follow-up. I have a feeling that, as the sun sets on those last couple days, and the whistle blows at 5pm as I leave the sawmill that this guilt will begin to fade into excitement. Already I'm making little lists of things I want to remember to bring. Sharaun's been doing a good job borrowing things from her Facebook consort... thus helping us minimize our continued investment.
Speaking of Sharaun, she leaves for her New Kids On the Block cruise on Wednesday morning. Abandoning me to both kids and a full-time job and all the week-before planning madness. I don't want to devote much writing time to this cruise, because I'm afraid I'll get to riled up. I'm glad she's going because she wants to so bad... the kind of bad where you might mistake her for a thirteen year old teenie-bopper instead of an established stay-at-home mom of the suburbs. I'm also glad she'll have some time to cut loose with her friends, so there's that. But don't ever, ever, try and talk to me about the money thing. If I think too long about it I get disgusted (probably shouldn't tell her that either, even though she already knows it's not good to kick the anthill). But let's talk about it just a bit... perhaps...
I wouldn't deny her the experience because of cost, obviously... no. What angries up my blood is realizing how rational it is in her mind to spend so exorbitantly on something I consider so wasteful. I think it's that mental disconnect around "return on investment" that irks me. To her it's a "no duh" to spend so much on something like this, to me it's akin to burning dollars. But then again, I don't expect to understand it... the ROI for her is something I'll not be able to comprehend. I'd like to say that there's nothing I would be willing to spend so stupidly on... but I'm fearful of making such a statement and then getting called down with lightning. I suppose I can leave it at that, because if we go much further down this route I'll begin playing the apologetic and start questioning myself in her voice about the money I'm disposing on this silly RV trip (which, I might schizophrenically add, is a family thing). I could do this all day... debate with my own consciousness. Probably as good reading as it is thinking, though, huh?
Anyway it's the kids and Mr. Mom for the latter half of the week, our last weekend in town, and Monday of next week. Then Sharaun's back and we have five days to get everything together, load it into the vehicle, and hit the road. It's going to go by in a blur, I already know it. Wish me luck.