We all have the important dates that mark inflection points in our lives. Since I’ve dispensed with the standard dates of importance like anniversaries or children’s birthdays, my set of dates is, unsurprisingly, different than most. My dates largely revolve around the times where I have extracted myself from situations that for one reason or another had become simply untenable.
The 16th of May stands far and away as the most important of these inflection points – not only because it’s the most recent, but because it marked what was probably the most trajectory altering. You see, despite all protests otherwise, I’m of a type that thrives best when planted in its native soil. Carry me too far away from the brackish water of the Chesapeake and I wilt, my abilities waning. Oh, I can function if needs be, but the end results will never be as good as they might have been in other circumstances.
Tennessee was supposed to be my grand adventure – undertaken earnestly and with all the best intentions. Four years later it ended up being not much more than a mire, determined to drag me down and beat me. That end came closer than I want to admit – I’m still rattled at the toll in proverbial blood and actual treasure that particular experience extracted from me.
The Glorious 16th of May, though. That date that cleared the decks and let me begin the process of getting back to my best self. There are days that sometimes make it hard to remember that I’ve come to my better place. Occasionally those days are more frequent than others. Six years on and it still feels like my very best self-extraction… and it still feels a whole lot like it happened yesterday.
It was a short week capped off with extra time at home. What annoys Jeff this week? Very little.
I’ve mostly accepted that aside from making a quick stop to top off groceries or for fuel, weekdays are going to be mostly consumed by going to, being at, and returning from work. By the time I get home, tend the herd, and have a bit of dinner, my brain has pretty much turned to mush. All I’m good for after that is mixing a decent drink and maybe a passingly interesting blog post.
The weekends, for their part, aren’t much better with their time eaten up with errands, cleaning, yard work, and generally keeping the homestead from falling down around my ears. By the time that all gets knocked out, it’s usually already late Sunday afternoon.
What perplexes me, and in fact makes me a little bit jealous, is how other people seem to carve out time to actually go do things for recreation. Of course I’m not likely to show up in a stadium full of people, but I wouldn’t mind so much getting out to stomp around the high ground at Gettysburg or take the tour at Independence Hall. Those things take time, though, and I know the minute I pull out of the driveway my mind is already going to ticking off the things that are lurking around not getting done.
I’m telling you folks, inside my head is a damned strange place to live sometimes.
I usually keep a running list of these things. It’s a rare Thursday when I don’t have nearly a page full to pick from. It’s a rarity, but it does happen from time to time. In fact it’s almost always the hallmark of it being an incredibly dull week.
Some people would look at that term as a negative. They’re the kind of people who jump out of perfectly serviceable airplanes or wrestle alligators. I’m not one of them. I’m just pleased as punch when things run on time and to standard. I’m happy not to bitch and complain when the universe gives me no reason to call it out.
It’s been an easy week with no work-related crises, a reasonably low instances of interaction with stupid people (or people in general, really), and the chance to knock down one of the first big projects on my “Want to Do” list instead of ticking off another one of the “Need to Do” items. There’s plenty of time yet for the wheels to come off, of course, but just now I’m not feeling very annoyed about this week at all.
Sorry to disappoint you.
For most of the last five or six years I’ve worked to build up a firewall between home and office. They were the twin streams in my life that must never, every cross. Today, with a few strokes of the pen, I’ve started the process to un-make that bulwark and let the two halves scrape past one another a bit more closely. Actually, that’s not accurate. I’ve given work a written invitation to conduct a wholesale invasion of Fortress Jeff.
That sounds more dire than it probably is since all I’ve really done is start the wheels in motion to get approval for working from home one day a week. As much as I value the hard wall of separation between home and office, the hard math isn’t on my side. Once I ran the numbers, finding that tucking myself in to my home office once a week would save me almost 40 hours a year of commuting time it makes the thing a bit of a no brainer, really.
I did the whole working from home thing years ago and I’m well aware of its virtues, particularly when it comes time to really study an issue and give it the mental once over without Chatty Cathy in the next cube spending the whole day in your ear. Plus, although my colleagues are decent enough (mostly), chalking up at least one day of the week where two dogs, a cat, and a tortoise are my officemates sounds preferable in just about every way.
We’re going to take this idea out for a bit of test drive starting (probably) sometime this month… but I’m not making any promises. As much as I’d like to spend another day at home, letting the office creep into the sanctum sanctorum may be a bridge too far.
1. Lazy asshats. You asshats are competing for billions of dollars of contracts. Somehow, though, you can’t manage to take your water bottles with you when you leave the damned room. What on earth would make me think you were compatent to manage major program efforts when you can’t pull off the easy to do stuff. If it were up to me being a lazy asshat who’s too good to clear your own trash would disquality you from any future work.
2. Those who can’t “leave it at the office.” This week I’ve observed at close range dozens of people who stuck around to “talk shop” for well over an hour after the work day ended. Those people perplex me. I can’t imagine a circumstance where I wouldn’t have something better to do on the average afternoon than that. The last thing I want to talk about at the end of the day is what I just did for the last eight hours. All I want to do is slide down the tail of my brontosaurous and make best possible speed for home.
3. Critics. Unless I saw you sitting in six months of planning meetings and voicing your “good ideas” when we could have used them feel free to take you nitnoid criticisms and go fuck yourself.
The good people of Charlotte are far more tolerant and understanding than I have a tendency to be. If you and your friends step out onto the interstate in order to “protest,” I don’t feel bad at all if one of you finds yourself under the bus. I understand people stopping for the assembled crowd in front of them, but the first time a rock slammed into my windshield or I felt my life was otherwise endangered, I don’t believe I’d have any moral compunction about using 4-wheel drive and 381 horsepower to cleave through that crowd like a hot knife. I don’t ever seek violence, but don’t think for a minute that I’m shy about using every weapon I have at hand to preserve my own life. I value it far more than I do that of someone who decides wading out into the middle of I-85 is a good way to make their point.
I’m beginning to feel like a broken record when I say things like this, but then again I’ve never had much a warm fuzzy for organized “protestors.” In my experience the only thing they’re much good for was lunchtime entertainment back in the olden days when I worked in DC. Those Million Whatever marches, though, were mostly harmless for the average tourist or office worker. If your idea of a protest involves endangering life and destroying property, you’ve really ceased to be sympathetic in my estimation.
Wake up. Go to work. Come home. Make dinner. Have a few hours of entertainment. Go to bed. Repeat. There’s no great secret to the good life, but you kind of have to work for it… and no, looting the local Walmart and throwing rocks at commuters does not count as work.