14 February 2008

Go with the flow

A year ago yesterday, I walked out of my office for the last time.

I don't regret leaving my job. I'm so much healthier and happier, and our family life is so much less chaotic--of course, in our family, "less chaotic" is quite relative. It was good for the kids to see that yeah, Mommy is a force to be reckoned with in the real world, but they also saw what it costs. They were proud of the work I did, proud of the very overt demonstration of my mad skillz, but they didn't like getting up in the morning to find out that I'd never gone to bed because I'd spent the night rewriting a report that had to be filed in court in the morning. Though it's possible that what they disliked the most were the days I rode my bike home from work, and showed up at school in my incredibly terrifying chartreuse cycling jersey.

I miss my work, which is different from missing my job. Although I (technically) have returned to freelancing, I haven't been very proactive about pursuing jobs though I still get handed things to do: a computer model that needs rethinking, a list of tasks that has to be prioritized by the likelihood a consortium will fund them. But I miss the big projects that kept my brain fully engaged; I am happiest fully engaged, intensely focused. I miss the satisfaction of finding a critical piece of information or the error that was throwing someone's argument off. I miss the joy of taking 50 pages of illegible nonsense and turning it into something lovely and coherent, even elegant, but above all, useful.

"I think I'm getting bored," I told the spouse last night, and he looked justifiably nervous, in part because he knows I have plenty to do, and in part because boredom and I don't mix well. I tend to get up to mischief when I'm bored. Admittedly, April through August are going to be very busy months, but some of what's planned already qualifies as mischief.

I mean, let's face it: what part of riding around Iceland on horseback is NOT mischief?

Oklahoma City. That's beyond mischief.

But while I'm waiting to cause trouble, I will make the spouse one of his favorite desserts: cherry cobbler. Because it is a good day for it, and because it is the small things, done with love and affection, that touch the heart.

And in the spirit of the day, I wish each of you, my readers known and unknown, a Happy Valentine's Day.

Go listen to some music: "Go With the Flow" from the album Songs for the Deaf by Queens of the Stone Age.

Update:

When he got home tonight, the spouse handed me one of his professional publications. "Look at that!" he told me.

"Do you like science and love to write?" I read. (Notice it didn't say anything about loving science). "Cool. You guys could totally live without me for three months."

"What?" cried the spouse. "No we couldn't."

"Well, it's a 12-week internship. You'd have to."

"NO!"

I am so applying!

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