Brandenburg in F-ing Flat

My boss and I have an 8 o’clock stand-up meeting every day. The stand-up is meant as a quick, informal check-in on your progress. What you got done yesterday, your priorities for today. The thought is if you’re standing, it shouldn’t go too long — about 15 minutes. We normally sit, and they last 30.

My boss is the best one I’ve ever had, maybe. Yesterday he made some cutting remarks about my performance though, which is hard to hear because it’s true.

So I went back to my computer to put everything back together. I shuffled papers and moved things around, and drew wild sketches. I answered some emails and drafted the weekly status report. Then I went to the doctor and got my back checked, because I couldn’t put my socks on or dry myself properly, or do things in the bathroom normal people do without bad backs.

I let the dog out and there was a new, wet stain on the rug. The cat jumped on my lap and made those retching movements, almost puked on me, but hit the rug instead. Then, I stepped on shit in my socks on the way to the bathroom and had to put on another pair again.

I got home from the doctor’s and turned the computer back on, answered emails, drew wild sketches. I took a long walk at sunset to clear my head and figure things out, but didn’t. I worked until 6:30, had trouble sleeping, got up at 4:30 and answered my first email at 4:52 AM.

I’m conflicted about taking work home with me: conflicted, meaning I don’t do it as a rule, on principle, but then one day you realize you’re the only person with that rule, and you have to decide what’s most important.

The problem with work for us in America is we over-identify with it and now, with technology, there are no borders between work and home. It’s another way of being here but not being present, and you have to consider how much of yourself you’ll let it take. Which is true with just about everything.


Categories: technology

Tags: , , , , , ,

22 replies

  1. Yes, you’re right. Wi-Fi is a mixed blessing. I am currently away from the office, but working half time. Because, of course, I can. Sucks, really


  2. Now, due to a complicated set of circumstances, I keep work out of my home life and that makes me think (worry) about the day when those circumstances change. I reassure myself; I should be able to handle it because I used to do some work at home. Mostly on projects I cared about.


  3. Is it possible that your work dilemma is at the root of your back problem? Just thought I’d ask the question. Don’t need an answer, just wish you well. Cheers.


    • Oh thank you Tish – funny, you may be right. I do enough Yoga to believe that for sure, that we harbor pain and sadness and emotions in our bodies…no doubt. Ironically in this case they may not be related, just a bad way to start the week! Thanks for the warm wishes and cheers to you too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve worked at home (at least part of the time) for every job I’ve ever had after college. On the whole I think it’s a good thing–I would not have been able to keep working after I had kids without that sort of flexibility–but I do understand how expectations have shifted. Most employees shouldn’t have to respond to an email at 10pm, but you may put your career at risk if you don’t.


    • Yes, my wife has worked at home since we had kids and for about 10 years now. And it’s fine, it’s just when the work from home is on top of the work at the office that I start to melt down, you know.


  5. i have finally, with this career, stopped doing anything at home that has to do with work. for many years, i was at the beck and call of my job or worked multiple jobs, and i am loving the freedom of this phase.


    • Do you teach? I’d think if you did, you’d have to do work prep at home, but I could be wrong. I feel like I’m entering a different phase of work-life that I don’t really want to enter.


  6. As someone who has experienced every mutation of boundary shifting, I realize that we often internalize the idea that we must be “on duty” at every moment. The only way to push back is to change people’s expectations, but it’s a challenge. And out of all of this, Bill, back misery really impacts quality of life – I hope that you feel better soon.


    • You’re very insightful with that, especially the expectation-changing part. Thanks for the well wishes on the back, I think it’s all good. Shocking to feel this so young: a slipped disc from a leash-jerk by the dog, jerk! Or carrying the groceries up the steps (me, jerk). Did your eye issue resolve?


      • The eyes are manageable, but I have to be mindful. I’m a walking middle-aged injury. This week a shoulder from helping someone move. It doesn’t take much!
        In terms of expectations, no one expects me to answer my cell phone (always silent), respond to late night emails or call them back right away. It was my only way of retaining some control over my time. Even small things like that are useful. You get a little push back and then they settle down. Expectations managed.


      • Glad it is manangeable. I remember when it sounded terminal as I’m sure you do more than anyone.


    • In the current work climate, the threat of replacement hangs over us at all times. But so what if you were replaced? Go replace someone else!


  7. “My boss is the best one I’ve ever had, maybe.” The judicious qualifier.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Been lucky to have employers who mostly care about ending the day at 5. Of course right now it’s 10 hr work days plus studying, but still. I’m at a beginning stage of career and think I’ll try not to accept or keep a job that requires me to be on call all the time, it’s just not worth it. Easier said than done I’m sure though. Shame it isn’t always so easy to change jobs.


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