To all the people who read this space regularly, I apologize for not having posted in almost two weeks. I was rather shocked myself when I looked yesterday to find that I hadn’t written anything since April 25. Previously, I’ve rarely gone more than three days without saying something, so I concede that my absence has been unusual.
But I do have an excuse. I’ve been working.
Not just working around the house, working at keeping an eye on my son, or working the Supermodel’s last nerve, like I have been the last six months. Mirabile dictu, for most of the last two weeks I’ve had some actual outside-the-house, earning-a-paycheck, having-to-wear-long-pants jobs to do. Both were/are short-term assignments through a staffing agency, but still. First, there were two days at a building materials distributor in Galt (about 25 miles north of Stockton), dealing with some Excel documents they needed cleaned up while their regular spreadsheet-walla was out sick. And starting a week ago, I’ve been counting bus riders and checking stop times for a consulting firm that’s doing a project with RTD, the local bus company in Stockton and the surrounding area.
I think that after the RTD assignment is completed (probably next Tuesday or Wednesday), I’ll be writing a little piece on that. But for now I’m more occupied with some other things I’ve learned from working outside the house again – one of which is something I’d apparently forgotten in the space of the last year. Namely, how one needs to arrange one’s life when holding down a “regular job.”
See, when you’re home pretty much all the time, there’s almost no such thing as “crunch time.” What’s urgent about making sure the laundry is done, the dishes are washed, and your five-year-old doesn’t miss his daily viewing of “Sid the Science Kid” on PBS? (Okay, the last one is urgent to the kid … until he forgets about it five minutes later.) After a couple of weeks of this, you start realizing that in most cases, you’ve got more than enough time to do everything on your list. You start looking for other projects to fill the time. You start reading more books, or re-organizing parts of the house, or … well, or blogging on a several-times-a-week basis.
But when you have more than 40 hours a week swallowed by wage-earning duty and all its surrounding activities (lunch breaks, commutes, etc.), all that changes. Figure that if you sleep eight hours a night, you only have 112 conscious hours a week anyway. A full-time job can grab almost half of them. So anything else you want to do – spending time with family, doing chores, yard work, catching up on the news, writing, whatever – has to be crammed into whatever time is left after the job has taken its share. And they have to be done using whatever energy you have left over from the job, too.
I knew all this, of course – but being out of work for sixteen of the previous eighteen months caused me to misplace the instinct you develop for fitting everything in to a truncated outside-of-work schedule. Today, I had a day off (the survey the consulting firm is doing isn’t being run today for some reason), so I had to play catch-up in spades: reconnecting a little with my son (who’s been in day care the rest of this week), folding the laundry I put in the dryer on Wednesday, washing most of four days’ worth of dishes, calling my optometrist yet again to find out why my bifocals haven’t come in (don’t, don’t, DON’T get me started), updating the checkbook, paying some bills, making a shopping list … oh, yeah, and finally getting back to my blog. I hadn’t taken into account that I couldn’t just do all these things leisurely throughout the day, interspersed with taking my son to the park or playing online Scrabble. So they piled up until I had to do them all on a day when I had time – even though what I desperately needed to do on that day was rest.
That was another thing I’d forgotten about working full-time when you haven’t done it for awhile: it takes a lot out of you.
Especially the way I’d set it up. For the last three days before today, I had to wake up at 3:45 a.m. to get to work on time. I’d chosen the early shifts on purpose, so I could be home in the late afternoon to cook dinner for my family (and not have to burden the Supermodel with it in addition to the extra time she was spending with the kids with me gone). But the problem is, I can’t – have never been able to – force myself to sleep. The Supermodel can; if she decides to zonk out at 9:00, she’ll be sawing logs no later than 9:08. Me, largely regardless of what I do, it happens when it happens. (I’m not jealous, not a bit. And if you believe that, I have some Chrysler stock to sell you.) So for three straight days, I was getting up before 4 a.m. … after falling asleep after 10 p.m. You can just imagine.
I was able to get through my work shifts without much more problem than occasional heavy yawning, but when I got home, the needle was already close to E. The ultimate came this morning, when I was boiling the leftovers of a whole chicken I’d roasted last weekend, to make a nice broth base for a dinner I had planned. Unfortunately, due to tiredness, I was so inattentive that before I knew it, all the water had boiled away, the chicken was scorched and I darn near burnt a hole in the saucepan. That could’ve been embarrassing. Thankfully I caught it just in time, and it was early enough that I was able to defrost some other meat for dinner.
And my tiredness only served to compound the lack-of-organization problem I stated above. I’ve got a lot of things I want to write about here – issues in the American church, things going on with the Obama administration, the collapse in the newspaper industry, the new Kentucky Grilled Chicken and the shutting down of my favorite music website, just to name a few. But writing takes a lot of focus (especially with small children around) and by the time I got home, got dinner on the table and retired to the PC for the evening, I could barely form full sentences. That, more than anything else, is why it’s been thirteen days between posts.
But it won’t be thirteen more before the next one. Again, the RTD job should wrap up no later than next Wednesday, May 13, and with the economy in the shape it’s in (see “toilet” in your dictionary), the chance of another full-time post coming up immediately seems rather remote. I expect that after a day off to recover my senses, I’ll be slamming out a post a day just to get through the backlog of ideas. So keep checking this space – there’s a lot for you to look forward to!
In the meantime, though, I’d better at least try to get some sleep. I have to leave for work tomorrow – Saturday – at six in the morning …