Well, it’s been nice pretending that I have all the time in the world to dink around the yard, troll every junk shop in three counties, and put my feet up to read whatever happened to strike my fancy. However, due to the completely unreasonable need to generate income in order to continue to provide food, shelter, and medical care for myself and my four-legged dependents, time is about to return to its usual status as my most precious commodity. Maybe that means I appreciate it more, but it’s a theory I’d be perfectly happy to put to the test as early as practicable.
I’ll be back at it tomorrow, making the devil’s bargain of time for money. I know I needed the down time, but I’m equally sure that whatever restive effects I’ve earned will be reduced to near zero sometime before the clock strikes noon tomorrow. It’s about as unavoidable as the rising sun. At least that first roll of the eyes won’t arrive as a shock. I know it’s coming.
Until then, I’ll make the most of the peace and quiet and enjoy one last afternoon unfilled with total asshattery. If there’s anything that long stretches of free time teaches me it’s that I can’t value those highly enough.
What I need now is absolute quiet. The wiring in my head is not, among other things, designed to keep me on and engaged with people every minute of a 12-hour day. Even with people with whom I have a friendly rapor it’s quite simply exhausting. In a building full of perfect strangers it’s like my own little version of hell. So if you don’t hear from me for a few days it’s because after wearing out every ounce of patience and calm I can muster, I’ve gone home, curled into a little ball, and attempted to make the world go away.
I’ve always had trouble finding my mental focus in loud environments. I don’t know if that’s what makes the hermit life so appealing to me or if it’s the other way around. It doesn’t really matter which caused what. The end result is the same – sitting at my desk with glazed eyes completely unable to cobble together a single coherent thought. It’s just one of the many joys of existing in cubicle hell.
If I’m honest, I’ll admit that the day to day isn’t as bad as I feared, but with that said the bad moments are absolutely hellish. At one point this afternoon I was an unwilling third party participant to at least six conversations taking place simultaneously within 20 feet of my desk. Keeping track of the thread of my own thoughts proved to be something between challenging and impossible for the better part of two hours today. For the record, that doesn’t lead to good staff work and leaves me feeling just about as annoyed in this particular workplace as I’ve ever been. That’s no mean feat.
When other people leave the office they’re in a rush to meet for dinner, or go shopping, or engage in some other socially acceptable form of human interaction. When I leave I can’t get away from that sort of thing fast enough. Home is far from silent, of course. There’s the clatter of dogs on tile, television or radio humming quietly in the background, HVAC noises, or appliances running. Somehow those things manage to not be distracting. Half a dozen overlapping conversations, on the other hand, leave me tired and more than a bit frustrated with my own inability to focus through the distractors.
Whatever reason, the subdued sounds of home, a good book, and something pressed from the fruit of the arbor feels like exactly what I need to steady myself.
One of the parts of being an adult that no one thought enough of to warn me about is that after a decade and a half of getting up for work in the dark hours of the morning, your body might accidentally attune itself to that time. Then you end up waking up at what some might consider “early” regardless of how late you went to sleep. Since I find it aggravating beyond measure to just lay in bed awake, the only thing to do is get up and get on with the day at hand.
I’m not saying there isn’t some virtue in 6AM… especially in 6AM on New Years Day. That virtue? For 90-120 minutes the world is absolutely quiet. Inside. Outside. For a few minutes, it’s like all the best parts of I am Legend. Inevitably, though, the rest of the world wakes up – hungover, but alive, to begin their day.
It’s just after 8AM as I’m finishing up this post. Already I can hear the traffic picking up outside and know that my revels are ended. Even so, it was a good couple of hours. I can only hope that it’s a harbinger of the year to come. And now that the world’s waking up, let’s go take 2014 for all she’s worth.
1. Too quiet. I’m generally a guy who appreciates his peace and quiet. Except when that quiet comes in the form of one of the meeting rooms I occasionally get stuck in. It’s not technically an anechoic chamber, but it’s awfully close. The small battery powered clock on the wall ticks with the sound of thunder and you can definitely hear the sound of the blood pumping through your ears when you’re the only one in there. As much as I appreciate a nice quiet workplace, apparently being surrounded by sound deadening material is my bridge too far. Surprisingly, even for me, there is such a thing as too quiet. Who knew?
2. Every Saturday. I get groceries every Saturday morning. It’s as ingrained into The Routine as brewing a pot of coffee first thing in the morning. Apparently a lot of other people also do their shopping on Saturday mornings too… which is why I don’t understand why every Saturday feels like I’m surrounded by people who are experiencing the grocery store for the first time. I don’t get the people walking around in awe of the abundance before them or the ones who don’t seem to have any earthly idea why they’re there or what they’re supposed to load into their cart to take home. Can we at least try to have a list, a plan, and not spend half the damned day wandering around as if the pasta aisle was the latest Magic Kingdom attraction?
3. Bank of America. Bank of America gets featured here a lot, but I actually tried hard to like them. Their online banking system is second to none and they had branches and ATMs just about everywhere I’d ever want to be. Their website is still top notch in my opinion, but over the last two months, I’ve watched their local ATMs practically drop off the face of the earth. I went from having four of them spread out along my daily commute path to having none. There’s still a branch office open locally, but not in a location that’s convenient to any of my normal travels… and it’s safe to assume I won’t be making any special trips just for the privilege of being a Bank of America customer. Sure, I’ll keep an account open with them in case I ever needed it, but I’m pointing my direct deposit and bill pay to one of the local credit unions. I really did like their big bank feel, but not enough to get stuck paying $5 in fees every time I wanted a few twenty dollar bills. There are just too many other, cheaper options to stick around for that kind of asshattery.
1. Filling up the quiet time. Some people assume that because I’m not talking they need to find a way to fill in all the quiet time. Rest assured, if something needs said I’ll say it in front of princes, profits, potentates, or presidents without regard to their rank, race, or religion. I’m quiet, not shy. There is a difference. On the other hand, when I don’t have anything of substance to add, I’m happy sitting quietly. I don’t need an endless nattering buzz of small talk in my ear to make me feel connected. Most days I desperately wish some people didn’t have a pathological need to fill in the quiet times with pointless chatter.
2. iPhone. I love my iPhone 5. It’s been a workhorse since the day UPS handed it to me. Since then, we’ve gone everywhere together. We’ve been inseparable. Sure, the UI could use an update and I wouldn’t mind a bigger screen sometimes, but those aren’t the issues that make up the hate end of my love-hate relationship with this phone. It’s the battery life. It wasn’t great right out of the box, but over the last few months it’s gotten progressively worse. Through resets, wipes, switching off functions known to draw lots of power, and aggressively managing what apps are open, I can sort of slow the battery drain a bit, but that’s not exactly a substitute for a battery that doesn’t suck. I’m trying to think of a good reason why after three hours of pretty limited use, my battery is drawing down towards 50% and none really come to me. I’ll limp along with a handful of cables and a external battery pack until the 5S comes along… but if that battery doesn’t show some significant performance enhancements, it might be time to reevaluate iPhone’s place as my daily carry.
3. Turning left. When you’re the first vehicle in the left turn lane, you should go ahead and pull all the way forward to the stop line. That way the invisible traffic gnome knows that you’re trying to turn left at the intersection and can wave his green light wand to change the signal. When there’s a line of traffic 40 cars deep sitting behind you in the left turn lane, it’s sort of a bad time to be confused by basic effing driving skills, you useless excuse for a meat sack. I have no idea why it’s socially unacceptable to drag people from their cars and beat them with a Stick of Shame for such mindless asshattery.
No, I don’t have some oddball dream of becoming a radish and I don’t want to suffer a catastrophic brain injury that leaves me lying in a hospital bed drooling on myself and peeing through a tube, but I the idea of spending the weekend being a vegetable has a certain appeal at the moment. It’s been one of those weeks without much of what felt like down time. Those weeks seem to be happening more and more often lately. Not a complaint, a statement of fact. My natural response, of course, is to want to spend the weekend knocking around the house doing my best to avoid the world and other people as much as possible.
I don’t know how it is for other people, but my style of introversion makes dealing with people, especially large groups of them, a seriously exhausting experience. I do my best to be civil because that’s what polite society expects, but during every interaction I’m suppressing my natural avoidance instinct. When a week has been nothing but external inputs, by Friday it has a tendency to feel like I’m just barely holding it all together. Under the circumstances retreat into a good book, a handful of movies, and a quiet house is the best elixir. It’s not running away to a private island, but it’s what I can manage on short notice and more importantly, it’ll be enough to make sure I get through the next week without bitch slapping some poor unsuspecting extrovert who tries striking up a conversation.
And yes, as always, I recognize the bizarre counter-intuitivity of the introvert that keeps two Facebook pages, a blog, and semi-active Twitter feed. You see, the difference is at any point when I decide I don’t want to deal with that stuff, I can just minimize the page and it goes away. People, by comparison, are notoriously butthurt when you try doing that to them in the analog world.