It's funny, but when I got back home after this last work trip (about two weeks this time), I felt very strange. Sort of disoriented. And pretty lonely.
I know part of the loneliness was that I got back to an empty apartment on a Wednesday, and most of it went away when Alex arrived on Friday. But I couldn't quite shake it completely-- it was in the back of my mind all weekend, and after Alex went back to Milwaukee it jumped back out at me again.
I think I understand it. Part of it, of course, was that I'd been working with terrific people I really liked, and I missed being around them. And that was naturally intensified by the crazy, intense nature of the experience. (It was actually a little like Bel Canto
, which I just finished and loved. Except with less tragedy and opera.)
But there was something else, too. It was one of the only times at work I've ever felt like a genuine member of a team, a group of people all in one place working together towards the same goal, and it was a pretty powerful experience for me. I think I really didn't know what I'd been missing until I suddenly had it for a moment. And then, despite the fact that that the actual work we were doing was far less interesting and rewarding than my usual work, it somehow developed this extra lustre that has to led to an improbable case of nostalgia.
I don't mean to suggest I typically work on projects all by myself. But there is a certain separation between me and the other people I'm working with. Part of it is a result of my particular job. But a lot of it is a literal logistical and physical separation-- I am usually not in the same physical place as the "team" I'm supposedly on.
Other than my first couple months at work, I've been across the city or across the country from the other people working on the same things as me. My office-mates are good people, and good company, but we are working on different things. And I only see the people working on the same campaigns as me occasionally; usually we just talk by phone or e-mail. Mostly I sit at my computer in my own little world.
(Ironically, my current office-mates and I were working on the same goals when I was in a different office, across the city; I switched offices last month, shortly after my work responsibilities shifted. I could probably have switched earlier if I had tried to, but at the time, I didn't realize I might be happier that way.)
I'm not sure there's anything I can do about this, short of asking to make some major shifts in my job. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to do that, considering how much I love what I'm currently focusing on. So I guess that leaves me back where I started, except a little lonelier and a little more self-aware. (Note: Yes, I'm being vague here about my work. If you haven't noticed, I try not to give many details about my actual job on my blog. This is probably completely useless in preventing any sort of potentially ugly situation, but at least I can say I tried. But if you're confused, feel free to ask.)
Hi! I'm still here!
My lapse in posting has been due to several factors: a) a valiant attempt to put responding to personal e-mails ahead of the blog, with the result that I am damn near caught up on that, yay!; b) the week I spent in Iowa working 17-hour days; and c) the fact that I've never been too good at posting frequently in the first place.
But let's move on, shall we?
For the sake of anyone I haven't told, the whole "where's Alex's residency?/where will we live?" question has been figured out. Alex started his one-year residency in Milwaukee last week. As Milwaukee's about 2 hours from here, the plan is that he'll be spending weeknights in a cheap furnished room up there and weekends down here in Chicago. Yep. We'll see how it goes. I'm trying to be optimistic and keep in mind the possible benefits that will help balance out the obvious drawbacks. I must say, though, it makes for really glum Mondays...
Speaking of Mondays, I turned 24 last Monday. I had a wonderful birthday. People have asked me what I did, and the answer is "Nothing." Which is precisely why it was so wonderful. Actually, I spend a lot of time doing nothing-- what made my birthday so nice was that I didn't bother worrying about it. No "I should be working on X" or "I probably shouldn't be doing Y right now." And that makes all the difference, really.
I don't feel 24, though. It seems rather ridiculously old. You can at least call 23 your "early 20s," but now I'm inescapably "mid-20s," so it's like I'm practically 27 already somehow. 24 is a perfectly reasonable age to be doing things like getting married and buying a house and having kids-- people my age have been doing those things for years now, but there was the consolation that at least you could say they were on the young side or a little ahead of their time. But no one would say that about a 24-year-old. I don't feel old enough for all of that yet. I don't think 23 ever actually set in, either. 22 is about right; I think I'll stay 22 for the rest of my life.
It's funny, really; I feel much younger at 24 than I felt when I was 14. Oh, objectively I've obviously grown a great deal since then. But at the time, I was absolutely positive that I was as mature and competent and grown-up as I could be. I lost that certainty somewhere around 18 or 19, and I don't know if I'm ever going to get it back again!
Random guessing game: what in my house has the following label?Blueberries and Cream
With soy milk proteins and scrumptious blueberry extracts.
Tune in next time for the answer...
And finally, a quick check-in on a few of my 2006 resolutions:
1. Write at least 15,000 words (of fiction or creative non-fiction) every month.
Ouch! My grand total for the month was 2,143 words-- not even close! I think part of the problem was that I got off track early in the month, and then when I realized how far behind I was, I only made a half-hearted attempt to catch up because I knew how hard it'd be to hit the goal. For February, I've really got to do it slow-and-steady.
3. Do a full aerobic workout at least 3 times a week, often more.
Other than the week I was in Iowa, I did manage to pull this off, so good for me!
5. Cook healthier and more creative foods on a regular basis.
Well, I made lentil chili, a random experimental soup, lasagna, smoothies (the healthy fruit-and-yogurt kind), and I have plans for more.
6. Get more organized, physically and mentally. (Keep to-do lists and follow them. Set deadlines and goals for myself and stick to schedules. Stop falling behind on e-mails with people. And keep my personal possessions more neat and organized, both at home and at work.)
I am almost caught up on e-mails! (Except for one that I'm 6 months overdue in responding to, which I keep putting off because now it needs to be really, really
good to make up for how long it's taken me-- Danielle, if you ever read this, I'm sorry!) Also, so far I am 2 for 2 in the "getting the apartment straightened and presentable by the time Alex gets back for the weekend" department, which may prove to be a good motivator for me.