1. The hunt. Sure, there are a few other minor annoyances, but the part of the before world that I probably miss most often while living in a plague year is regularly hunting for books. I’ve filled that particular gap by rounding out a couple sets and picking up some harder to find titles through online orders, but waiting for something to arrive in the mailbox lacks the more visceral element of finding just what you were looking for “in the wild.” There’s something special in finding that clean first edition or autographed copy laying at the bottom of the bargain bin or in someone’s yard sale clearance. I’m still gad that there’s a first edition/first printing of The Last Kingdom finally headed my way, but paying full retail and shipping definitely rankles.
2. Bloody wankers. My personal politics have always tended towards the conservative and/or libertarian. There are currently, though, whole swaths of people in that general demographic that I no longer know how to talk to. We may agree on issues of taxation, personal liberty, defense policy, and a host of other issues – but if you start any conversation or social media post proceeding from the proposition that science is in some way “out to get us,” I don’t know that we have anything further to say to one another. Science isn’t a fixed body of knowledge inherited from the ancients, unchanged and eternal. It’s an ongoing process of testing, probing, and adjusting to new facts as they develop. If, as we sit now in July, your argument against science is “that’s not what they said in March,” please just stop talking now before everyone near and dear to you realizes you’re a bloody wanker.
3. Waiting. There’s a skill to being able to wait patiently. It’s not a gift I’ve ever had, but I recognize that it is one. One of the hardest aspects of largely being able to set my own agenda over these last four months is clearly that I respond even more poorly than usual what all that’s left to do is sit around waiting for something to happen, particularly when the results are completely dependent on the actions of others.
I started working on one particularly benighted project a year ago this month. It was supposed to be long over by now, but thanks to the Great Plague it lives on. It lives on and goes critical for two days starting tomorrow. It will either go well or it will crash and burn over those two days. I don’t see any obvious path to “it went ok.”
By this time tomorrow we’ll know which path it’s taking… which is why I’m currently sitting here with a gin and tonic staring blankly at the back yard and occasionally tapping in a few words on my phone. We’ve reached the point now where there’s nothing left to do but show up and hope the thing unfolds the way it’s supposed to, that one or more of the key players don’t spaz out, and that the tech doesn’t suddenly, catastrophically fail.
There’s effectively nothing I can do about any of those issues now. Except wait and see how it all falls together or apart.
I hate the wondering. I hate the waiting. Let’s get on with it and get it finished.
1. Panera. About once every three months lunch from Panera Bread sounds like a good idea. I’ll walk in, order something that sounds tasty, get it back to my desk, and then promptly be disappointed that it wasn’t as good as I had hoped. It’s not their fault. If I would just show up and order soup and a bread bowl everything would turn out alright. This dissatisfaction is precisely what I get for walking in and trying something new when I already know there’s something on the menu that I like… but apparently I need periodic $10-12 reminders of why new things are bad.
2. Politics isn’t personal. Hard as it is to believe, I don’t hate people who have the audacity to disagree with my political positions. It’s never occurred to me to pick or maintain friendships based on whether anyone approves or disapproves of the right to bear arms, or to have an abortion, or on tax policy. Politics, in my mind at least, is mostly a “business” function. Although many of my beliefs are deeply held and intensely personal, I’m smart enough to know instinctively that with about 300 million other Americans all wandering around with their own moral compass and free will, there’s a chance that some of them might disagree with my positions. Some of them might even disagree intensely. That’s fine. Once upon a time that kind of disagreement was even considered healthy in a democracy… but that never stopped people from being able to share a drink or a meal together across the aisle. That sort of thing is probably out of fashion now, but fortunately that’s not something likely to dissuade me.
3. Game of Thrones. The idea that it’s going to be another twelve months before another Game of Thrones episode airs is just really sinking in. As much as I appreciate its far ranging filming locations and production values second to none, I despise the HBO programming model that delivers only ten new episodes per season. Although it’s apples and oranges, the first season of Star Trek booked a whopping 29 episodes. Sure, It’s a classic first world problem, but since I live in the first world that’s usually the kind I tend to encounter. It just feels a bit like perhaps there’s a happy medium that falls somewhere between the 11th and 29th episodes.
It’s a simple answer this week. The only thing annoying Jeff this week is the 20.5 hours standing between him and the start of the weekend. Not for any special reason or because there are big plans, but simply because Friday night > five other nights of the week combined.
The last two weeks have been the longest stretch since I moved in that something hasn’t gone horribly wrong. Nothing has broken. Nothing is leaking. There’s no new mold to report. No one has dropped of a junk car in the driveway. Things have settled into a relative state of normal. If anything, normal makes me nervous. It’s like the prelude to something worse. The calm before the storm if you will. It’s the new normal, means that I’m in a perpetual state of waiting on the other shoe to drop.
I should probably just embrace it and try to ride out the last two days of the workweek into a long weekend and trip home. There will be plenty of time for mayhem and chaos after Sunday. For now what I really need is a nice calm couple of days leading into what is looking likely to be the closest thing I do this year to taking a summer vacation. All is well. Things are good and my stress level is way, way down… so why do I feel the need for some all-American debauchery bubbling just under the surface?
I got an email on Monday night from the property manager (after talking to the actual homeowner) stating emphatically that he would be in on Wednesday (that would be today) to address the laundry list of things that were broken in the house and/or to haul away junk left by the previous tenant. Being 7:30 here in the east coast, I think it’s now officially safe to say that he isn’t coming today. What has been a low simmer most of the week is now a rolling boil. That small bit of sympathy I had yesterday? Yeah, that’s pretty well gone. The good will of being new to the neighborhood and not wanting the first thing I do to be make waves is worn off completely. Now I pretty much want to be a pain in the ass until everything is resolved to my satisfaction. I wonder how many phone calls a day I get before it’s technically harassment?
After another week of ponderous waiting, I was given another gentle reminder that this thing up north might actually work out. I got to spend a few minutes talking to a to individual who will act as my “sponsor” during the transition and in-processing period. It wasn’t exactly the call from HR that I have been waiting for, but it’s a sign of life. At this point on the long, torturous process I seem to be overly given to looking for signs and reading tea leaves. Absent the magic moment when they throw the switch from tentative to official, that is probably as good as it’s going to get. After nine months, you’d think that I would be use to waiting for things to happen.
The ability of the system to make the simple things hard is never far from my thoughts these days. Since this whole exercise involves filling out some paperwork and moving my electrons from one database to another, it’s still hard to understand how it could possibly take as long as it does. The irony is that once they pull the trigger, they’ll probably want to give me a short reporting date and wonder why I can’t get out of here with a whole two weeks notice. I’ve been around this Army long enough to know better than spend a dime making preparations without a set of orders in hand. So, I hurry up and wait.
Whomever decided that patience is a virtue should be clubbed about the head and neck like a baby seal. I can only assume that anyone who thought sitting around quietly waiting for something to happent to them, must not have had much worth waiting for coming their direction. Yet, here I sit; anything but patient and without the first thing to do about it other than continue sitting here waiting. That and railing against the virtue of patience, of course. I suppose they can make me wait, but there’s no power in heaven or on earth that can make me like it… or even want to like it. Gratification has been sufficiently deferred and I want it now, damnit.
Yes, if you’re wondering, it feels better now that I’ve said that. I’ll be busy marking time if anyone needs me.
If anyone is following along at home, tonight’s update is just a brief note to say that this morning’s interview went well. That is to say as well as an interview can go when the prospect of the interviewer being able to make an offer anytime in the near future is completely unknown. Like all my other sit downs with selecting officials from across the Mid-Atlantic, this office is also subject to my nemesis the hiring freeze. That unfortunate circumstance notwithstanding, I’m comfortable that I delivered the best pitch possible… and now we’re back to the waiting game. That’s progress.
Even though the hiring freeze is still alive and well, I’m resolved to overlook such troubles for the time being and have continued my blitzkrieg approach to job hunting. As of this afternoon here are the stats:
Total Resumes Sent: 162
Total Rejected Outright: 87
Total Referred to Selecting Official – Rejected: 5
Total Referred to Selecting Official – Open: 7
Total Status Pending: 63
Even a blind dog finds a bone now and then, ya’know?