Monday, February 28, 2005


I worked from home today. Once in a while, I do that. It's easy enough, given the simple technology that keeps me connected to all my electronic files and communication means. Yet every time I do it, I shake my head thinking about those people who believe that telecommuters work less than if they were in the office.


For starters, I got up at 5:30am and spent half an hour reading and responding to emails that arrived overnight from my associates in Japan, China, Australia, and New Zealand. I organize so I can efficiently handle the stuff that will come in during the day. I take half an hour to shower and get dressed (albeit more casually than if I were going into the office and with less effort toward make-up and hair). Then, taking advantage of the relative calm that is the period between 6:00am and about 7:30am, I start working on projects. Documents that need updating, forms that need completing, databases that need entering. When the emails and voice mail messages start around 7:30am, I turn my attention to them. The rest of the day is a juggling act between the two.

And for some reason -- perhaps to disprove the theory that telecommuters work less than people in the office -- I work almost without cessation, usually through lunch and often beyond the typical end of the day. I'm not walking to meetings, fax machines, copiers, and other people's desks intermittently throughout the day, or fielding people at my own desk. I often get so entrenched in my work that I forget to drink water -- a habit deeply ingrained in my office routine. I don't even eat lunch, and I'm at home; a weak stone's throw away from my own kitchen!

Today, I managed to get a whole hour for lunch (something I don't do even when I am in the office) only because I had to go to the post office (to send important overnight package) and drug store (to get supplies for sick husband). The lunchtime and pre-snowstorm errand-runners clogged the streets, parking lots, and checkout lines, and thus I managed a one-hour lunch. But when I returned, I immediately picked up where I left off.

I just finished for the day -- at 5:45pm. Taking away the half hour for getting ready in the morning and the hour for lunch, I worked 10 hours and 45 minutes. This is typical of my experience working from home: I find I am significantly more productive. Yet somehow, there are people who think I would do less here than I would have done in 8 hours in the office. Go figure.

Monday, February 21, 2005

lightening up

It's been a trying month. This puts the seriousness of all that stress into perspective. It's important to laugh. And occasionally, to mock something that's screechingly self-important. A reference to the Gates project in Central Park may help.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

the collapse

Work this week has been turgid with tasks. I like to be busy, and I don't usually pull the martyr routine about having too many things to do. But this week exceeded a healthy level of busy from the get-go. The last few weeks have led up to this, and I saw it coming. The travel and the accident set me back enough to know that I would have to move awfully fast to keep from having the whole thing cave in on my head. So, this week, I ran. And ran and ran and ran.

Yesterday morning, I arrived at my office around 6:45am and was immediately bombarded with more than 20 task reminders. Before 7:00 o'clock in the morning. I can't rehash the whole day, or my typing will trail off and I'll be left staring blankly at my computer, babbling incoherently and possibly drooling.

Here's an indication of the day. By the time I stopped working at 6:15pm, I had sent and received approximately 500 emails. In one day. And email isn't the only thing I did during the day. I was updating databases, creating documents, reviewing contracts, having conference calls, taking phone calls, fielding requests from people who showed up at my desk... I even provided computer support for three people, including the Co-Founder of the company. Among other things. And my lunch consisted of an apple that was already at my desk, leftover from the previous day. At one point, I think I remained seated for more than six hours. To say it was a full day would be like saying that the Empire State Building is kind of tall.

Despite running and running and running to keep up with it all, I had a little moment about 3:00pm when my husband called to tell me that we spent $50 for the vet to tell us he doesn't know what the bump is on Milo's shoulder, but we should make an appointment to have it biopsied. That little emotional hiccough (and the $400 it will cost) brought tears to my eyes. And when I started thinking about the rest of the stress, I just had to end the conversation.

My husband told me to grab my cell phone and go outside and call him. I tried to, but as soon as I turned around to leave, there was someone at my desk who wanted my attention. Me, with moist eyes and blowing my nose. I made up a story about having a reaction to the feathery leaves I'd just removed from my bouquet of roses. I think she bought it.

It was five minutes before I could leave, and I couldn't bring myself to go outside. So I sought an empty conference room. The closest one was occupied, so I ducked into someone's empty office to make the call. It was at this point that I lost it. I started crying -- balling, really. Like a little kid. I tried to meltdown quietly, but was horribly unsuccessful, sobbing and wailing. There was a Vice President in the office next to me (I could hear his voice through the wall). I knew that, as long as I was talking with my husband about this stuff, I would continue balling. So I literally hung up on him.

Then I spent a solid five minutes hiding in the corner of this person's office, trying to compose myself before I went out where people might see me. He didn't have any tissues (who doesn't have tissues at their desk?), so I used the hem of my skirt to dry my face (so as not to soil my more obvious shirt sleeves). I made a break for the bathroom to splash some cold water on my face and use paper towels to dry everything off, but when I got to the door, I could hear a couple people having a conversation inside. I couldn't do it. So, I raced back to my desk. Using my compact to assess the damage, I saw that there was no hiding what I'd been doing. My face was hugely puffy and red, and my eyes were almost completely bloodshot. I calmed myself and managed to log in another three hours of work.

The morale of the story? I don't think there is one. Sometimes life piles up on top of you, and sometimes, that pile collapses.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

update and vent

So, I entered this cryptic title last time and dashed off before I could give a real explanation. I still don't have time to go into all the specifics (and nobody in their right mind would want to read them all). But I need to vent, so here I am for a quick summary of events and a bit of steamletting.

Two weeks ago tomorrow, I was in a car accident. It was an unusual situation and as it happened I was driving my husband's car when it happened. I will not get into the details of the accident. I was then, have been for the past two weeks, and will continue to be for the rest of my life, grateful that neither the passengers in the other car nor I were hurt. I can't speak for their after-effects, but I had naseau for nearly a week afterwards and a spectacular seat belt bruise which, as of right now, is only the faintest bit of shadow.

The car, however, was not so lucky. Hit in the right rear quarter, it spun around about 45 degrees and the bumper went flying across the road to land on the grassy area by the sidewalk. The right rear wheel is no longer perpendicular to the ground, and thus the car is undriveable. It was towed away that morning, and until yesterday, sat in a storage yard awaiting the insurance company appraiser's inspection. The tow truck driver told us he thought that they would total it because of the extent of the damage. However, yesterday morning, I received a call that upon visible inspection, it was, in fact, fixable.

I have no idea why my insurance company would only do a visual inspection when clearly there will be significantly more work to be done under the car. But apparently they're going for the fastest route (although it took them nearly two weeks to get around to the inspection), by writing up an initial report and sending me the first check -- $5100, less our $1000 deductible. He assured me that they would pay the rest once the shop gave a second estimate for the remaining repairs.

When I spoke with the shop, they assured me that this is the way it's done now. They do it all the time. So, I guess I just have to continue to hope for the best.

Over the last week, I'd let myself get relatively laissez-faire about it (whereas the first week, I did a lot of handwringing and general fretting). Most of our conversations this week have centered on replacing the car. So, yesterday's news that it was fixable threw us a little off track. Truth is, we were looking forward to getting rid of it. Oh well.

Anyway, in this new milder mindset, I had managed to not think about the ways this process could go wrong, the most significant of which would involve the other driver. Well, tonight I got a call from the officer on duty, needing me to reiterate my insurance information because it was incorrect on the police report. I was cynical about the veracity of this call (read too many spam emails about scams) and offered instead to call the police station back with it. He asked that I do so within half an hour. I asked him what the problem was, because I had given him my insurance information at the accident. He said that the driver's mother was "making a stink about it."

Here we go.

So, despite the fact that my house is really cold tonight (the largest electric bill we've had in five years has convinced me to turn down the heat) and my fingers are freezing and blue, my face is burning up and red. Putting my hands to my cheeks is temporarily a relief to both, but it's difficult to function in that position for long.

The rest of my cryptic title referred to a trip I took the day of the accident (I had to fly to Chicago for a series of business meetings), the trip home, the immediate immersion into the too-long SuperBowl, and my complete and utter exhaustion after that series of events. Had I been in possession of an only slightly less sturdy constitution, I'd have fainted dead away and been admitted to a "spa." Instead, I went to work at 6:45am Monday morning (with only one car, my husband and I now carpool, changing my work schedule to adapt to his).

To reiterate the good things: Despite the occasional misstep, I still believe that I live a blessed life and I am grateful for every tiny (and little and medium and big and extra large) good thing. My husband was recently promoted, which is great for him. I have a ton of projects at work, which is a good thing even if it's sometimes overwhelming. I have so much. It's frustrating that one out-of-whack-situation can commandeer so much of my attention away from all the good.

The holidays, my two business trips, the accident, and the backlog of work behind me for now, perhaps I can finally dedicate more time and attention to sanguinary blue. Real attention. Creative writing and editing and graphics and links and everything.

Monday, February 07, 2005

crash, zoom, cab, cab, cab, zoom, rah, argh, *

That about sums up this past week for me. I'm too tired to go into details. This is a really good reason for not blogging better. Trust me. You'll believe it when you read it.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

ack! february already!

I underestimate the amount of time it takes me to get reacclimated to all parts of my life any time I return from a trip. It took me two weeks to catch up from one week in Hawaii (details to follow). Part of that was work backlog, and part of it husband backlog. Throw in a dash of sick Dad, and it takes not only keen organizational skills, but emotional fortitude to plow through it all. Dad, by the way, is feeling better.

As for Hawaii, I'd say it was worth it. I just have to be realistic about when things get back to normal. So, when I said the true test of my dedication to blogging would be dictated by my speedy return from post-holiday business travel, I may have been a bit short-sighted. At least I'm here now, offering this meager entry, until which time I can dedicate a few hours to writing a more meaningful one.