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.
One of the many exciting parts of my recent run of days off was a visit with my frighteningly Teutonic primary care doctor. I actually like the guy – Not just because he’s instrumental in keeping me alive despite my best efforts to the contrary, but also because he’s not a pushover. I’ve had docs in the past who were probably a bit too willing to give way in the face of a strong personality. This guy, well, he’s not a pushover. Even when I’m blatantly ignoring his advice, I appreciate his frank and direct approach.
This most recent visit resulted in a few tweaks to the daily chemical cocktail that’s doing its best to keep me from dropping dead. Although I’m feeling fine, we added a fairly new drug to the mix because some of the underlying numbers were starting to creep off target. Yeah, it’s another hundred bucks a month out of pocket, but when weighed against the previously mentioned dropping dead option, I suppose it’s really a bargain.
As a responsible drug user, I try to be at least minimally informed about what I’m swallowing down with my morning coffee. Reading the list of potential side effects checked off most of the usual unpleasant check boxes: May cause runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, irritability, back pain, joint or muscle pain, nausea, stomach pain, or diarrhea. Basically what the helpful information packet told me is that the side effects are a subset of conditions I already expect to experience on a regular basis. Super.
1. Sleep. The first night it was missing almost completely. The second night it ended 90 minutes before what passes for my “normal” wake up time. At some point during this little break of mine, I’d like to think I’m entitled to at least one night of sleep that leaves me feeling more or less rested. I don’t really expect to get it, but it would be a nice perk.
2. Service. Aside from standard carryout options, I don’t go out to eat often. There’s a combination of reasons for that. Mostly, if I’m going to eat something at a restaurant it has to either be something I don’t/can’t cook myself or has to be better than a similar dish that I’d cook at home. Also, restaurants, but their very nature, tend to be very people-y kind of places. When the off chance arrives that I do stop off for a bite – and when I am one of only three paying customers in the entire establishment – it feels like I shouldn’t have to ask twice for another drink and three times for silverware. Maybe I’m being too critical here, but I feel like getting the hell off your phone and doing your actual job could have made a real difference here.
3. Cosby. A major celebrity got away with innumerable criminal assaults over a period of many years and it appears that he’s finally about to be called to account. It’s almost as if we’re supposed to be surprised by this. In a culture that worships celebrity over almost all other things, I think the real story should be that even more of them aren’t leading lives not far removed from Crime TV. The cult of celebrity enables this kind of douchebaggery to continue more or less unabated. Rich and famous they may be, but they’re just people – and we all know how how much esteem that entitles them too in my book.
For most of my adult life I’ve had a somewhat conflicted relationship with sleep. I recognize and accept it as a biological necessity, but I’m not in love with the idea of spending up to a third of each day lying prone when there are likely other, more interesting things to do.
Occasionally, my ambivalence towards sleep catches up with me. Usually it’s on a Sunday afternoon when I’m not otherwise engaged and find myself going chin down. On rare occasions like last night, I’ll nod off before ever making it to bed. That’s not an especially pervasive problem as usually I’m only down for 10 or 15 minutes.
Last night was something different, though. I suspect the last two weeks has really started catching up with me. I went down hard at 8:15 and spent the next two and a half hours drooling on myself in the living room. This was apparently just enough shut eye to completely ruin the chance of getting an actual night’s sleep. Laying abed wide awake isn’t really my style, so I read, did some internet things, watched a surprisingly interesting documentary about the Boeing 747, and then finally “went to bed” a little after 3am.
Thanks to my surprisingly persistent internal alarm clock, I was still up by 5:30 this morning. Thus is the way I begin my designated “down time.” I can only hope this isn’t setting the tone for how the rest of these next few days are going to run.
No matter how many times I do it, I always seem to forget that going back to the office after a long few days off is, quite simply, exhausting. There’s the usual flurry of emails – mercifully fewer because so many other people stayed home too. A few, though, were real humdingers – written, clearly, by someone who chooses to ignore the holiday and assume everyone spent every waking minute of their time off thinking about things back at the office. That’s fine for some people I suppose, but it goes entirely against my wiring.
It’s Wednesday at least. Having a week that starts halfway through does seem to help ease the transition back into the world of work. The impending arrival of snow in the local area tomorrow is having something of the opposite effect by filling my head with dreams of an extraneous day off. It’s a pipe dream, of course, given the forecast, but it’s a happy dream. I’ll try not to let it rock me back on my heels too badly in the morning when I wake up and all it is outside is dark and cold.
The good news, if you can call it that, is the first day back is over now and it can cause no more trauma. Like the journey of 1000 steps – or more aptly in my case the journey of 6,357 days – the key part is to take the first one and then keep grinding them out.
After the better part of two weeks off, some might say that they feel rested and ready to get back to work. I’m not one of those people – never have been. Eleven days of doing whatever I want, whenever I want has precisely the opposite effect. There’s been a lot of reading, a lot of cooking, some visits with old friends, nights spent sprawled across the living room floor with the dogs while we catch up on a few TV shows, and tending a few necessities of home ownership. What hasn’t happened at any point during these days off (until the sun climbed over the yardarm today), is giving any but the the most passing of thoughts about what might be going on and/or waiting for me back at the office.
Now that I’m squarely facing the last day of this glorious long, long weekend tomorrow it has come creeping back into my thoughts… and decidedly not in that “oh yay I get to go back to the office soon” kind of way. There’s nothing for it, of course. I’d be shit at living under a bridge and the endless bulldog medical bills won’t pay themselves, so face it I must.
There’s still a day standing between me and whatever bat shit crazy ideas have passed themselves off as the best things ever over the last two weeks. I feel it’s my personal obligation to do my best to ignore those thoughts as best I can for at least the next 24 hours. After that, all bets are off, and we’ll be exhausted and right back in the tall grass as if there never was a break at all.
1. The two weeks of Christmas. I was sitting in a meeting this week where the great and the good were calling for all manner of things to happen in the next two weeks. It’s cute when they’re optimistic like that. Experience tells me that even the most dedicated senior leader is going to find it hard to get jack-all done when 75% of his or her workforce is sitting snug in their homes or on the road for the week before and after Christmas. It’s good to be ambitious. It’s good to have goals. It’s also important to know your limitations, especially when you’re working with a skeleton crew just barely large enough to keep the lights on. Reason 7,471 I have no interest in bossing ever again.
2. Not knowing when to STFU. There is a time and a place for raising new topics or for asking every question. When the guy sitting at the head of the table is trying to close things out and the meeting has already run twenty minutes past its scheduled ending, though, is neither the time nor the place. That’s when you should have been a bureaucrat long enough to know that it’s time to sit there and shut the fuck up.
3. Emergency slide flipping. If there’s anything worse than being stuck in your own meeting, it’s being unceremoniously suck into someone else’s meeting because their computer crapped out and getting it fixed takes days. Look, a) It’s not my program; b) I actually have my own work to do; and c) If we keep finding work arounds to the shit tech support we get it will never have a reason to improve. Being a slide clicker on your own material is bad enough, but the number of times I’ve been yanked away from whatever it was I was doing to flip slides for someone else is astounding. It’s like no one in this place has heard of opportunity cost or return on investment. There are days when I’m entirely convinced I’m the best paid clerk/typist in the whole damned country.