1. Joy theft. If I’m bluntly honest, I’ll tell you that I spend all day at work wanting to get home and lose myself in a book. By the time I’m home, dinner is made and cleaned up, and I’ve tended the creatures who share my roof, I’m so bleary eyed and tired that getting through a paragraph without my mind wandering is hard. Three nights out of five I can’t seem to focus on the words long enough for it to even be enjoyable. It’s just one more way that paying bills and being responsible conspire to suck all the real joy out of life.
2. Signals over the air. All I want to do in the few minutes between when I pull into the parking lot and when I have to be at my desk is get my morning Twitter update and find some funny, funny memes. Apparently that is too much to ask because for the last two weeks the parking lot has been a large dead zone. I don’t know if it’s my phone, Verizon, or just the Department of the Army trying to suck even a brief flicker of fun out of the surrounding air, but for whatever reason there’s nothing doing on my phone for those ten or fifteen minutes. If you think a few minutes of boredom and mindlessly staring out the windshield is enough to break my spirit and get me to my desk a few minutes earlier than I have to be there, well, it’s like you don’t know me at all.
3. Mushroom status. When grown in a farm setting, many mushrooms are simply left alone in a dark room and fed a steady diet of shit. I’m sure it happens in every organization of more than one person, but this great green machine of ours seems to have honed leaving people out of the loop to a fine art. It’s always exciting to come to the office and find an email from someone working in another organization letting you know that “your boss from high on Olympus said ‘X’ is going to happen.” It’s when you, as the person nominally responsible for “X,” have the exciting opportunity to let that individual know that no one in your own organization has bothered to tell you a fucking thing and thank them for the heads up before launching out on a paper chase to sus out how much time you may or may not have wasted depending on the veracity of your informant’s information.
Tis the season to be meh. Honestly, if it weren’t for the calendar in Outlook and the sparkly Rudolph blinking happily on the neighbor’s lawn, I wouldn’t have any real idea it’s less than two weeks until Christmas. I have exactly one present purchased, which means this Saturday is probably going to involve the painful ordeal of going to a mall of some sort. On the flip side, I’m ridiculously excited about being off for 9 straight days and spending a big chunk of those banging around Allegany County. I’m insanely happy that this Christmas isn’t going to involve a 16 hour drive to get anywhere. So yeah, while Christmas spirit and holiday joy isn’t exactly twinkling inside me, but I’ve been doing this long enough now to be damned appreciative for the perks that come with it. After the last five years of Tennessee exile, I’ve come to think of Cecil County unblinkingly as home… But getting to spend some time at the real thing is definitely going to make the holiday for me.
I was in a position where I actually needed to go to Target today. Under most circumstances, I try to avoid that type of venue between December 1st and the middle of January, but I found myself there this morning needing an eclectic mix of groceries and sundry household goods. And with that, the stage is set…
While minding my own business and searching for the Wonder bread, it occurs to me that Christmas is supposed to be the happiest time of the year. People go to great lengths to show how jolly they are by decorating their homes and lawns, throwing parties, and exchanging $15 gifts with their coworkers. Since I’m a hopeless watcher of people, I noticed that no one around me actually seemed jolly. In fact they seemed downright miserable… jamming laden carts into one another, wading through scowling crowds to get to on section or another, scarcely keeping an eye on the kids they had in tow, unless it was to yell at them to come back.
This is the happiest time of the year and for some reason, something doesn’t seem quite right. It’s amazing what you can see when no one knows, or cares, that you’re watching.