God from the machine

Muted colors on the drive in to work, highs in the low 50s. The temporary workers in their fluorescent body suits setting up the construction site for the day, wincing in the rain. Me as a temp worker with a construction crew, flagging. Or in a factory fresh out of college delivering dot matrix reports on a cart to the CSR’s: “Luanne’s temp.” In my car over lunch with the seat reclined and the radio, my arms crossed trying to rest, counting the minutes before I had to go back in. I loved temp work: low commitment, low expectations, though it was low pay. I’d have to work two full days at the rates I worked then to make what I make in an hour now. And my work is still temporary, contract-based.

In the morning on the road leading up to the lake with my first coffee in the dark my stride’s uneven and I mumble to myself as the cars go past and I’m surrounded by million dollar homes and feel out of place, and wonder if I look suspicious. The street lamps on the edge of the park are the color of far-off planets pink and gold, and when the ducks come in to land on the lake they look stilted and fake how they fly, a deus ex machina, a medieval play.

I sit on a log and watch the pattern of rain on the lake, the level’s come up a bit, the shoreline thinner. I come and sit and try not to think about anything but always do, and when I get home I sit on the front stoop, take off my shoes, come inside, pet the dog, check in with the kids, go back to work.

I used to think it was off-limits to do work from home but now I have to, and I get more of my “home” working from home than I did before leaving it, for work.

I’ve been contracting a year now, three days a week going into the office, sometimes less, working off and on about every day, an email or two on the weekends, sometimes a deck, a couple hours on a Sunday.

And overall I feel I get more done and have more balance in my life, though the work is kind of nutty and unpredictable: it mirrors life, that way.

The work is more predictable (and less nutty) on a construction crew flagging, but it doesn’t pay as well. Those are the first jobs that will go to the robots.

Today again at work I tried to help make sense of things, to rationalize requests, bring structure, order. I took data from a PowerPoint slide, put it in Excel so we could run calculations on it, then put it back in PowerPoint, went down to the cafeteria before they closed, found a spot by the window, ate my Poke bowl with compostable chop sticks, went back upstairs, brushed my teeth, logged on.

I’m never sad going into work but never sad leaving.

When I got back Dawn was making burritos and the kids were at the table doing homework looking tired, that post-school, manic energy thing. Dawn told Charlotte to bring me a beer and I snapped at her when she didn’t.

For a time I stayed in the den on the sofa sipping it, staring at nothing. When I felt better I came back, and then they went to their dance lessons, and the hot tub was the right temperature so I got in, came back to the den and lit some incense, sat down to write. I’m wrong in the head when I don’t write, and haven’t written much in a while. I look for triggers on my walks, on the ride into work, the temp workers, the Jupiter’s beard on the roadside shoulders, the fact it seems everyone else is looking down in their laps, at their phones. Saw two kids near the school like that and they looked like they were praying, how they gazed at their palms, clasped them. My god is in the woods.



Categories: musings, technology, writing

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

20 replies

  1. “I’m never sad going into work but never sad leaving.” That pretty much nails it.

    Sue and I have been working at home for years now, and you’re right — it really makes for good balance. Unless there’s a looming deadline, you can go out into the woods at 10 am and make up for it at 7 pm. Or you can work both weekend days a little bit, which is OK. And you can write in good blocks of time too.

    Glad you have some of that happening these days …


    • Thank you Kevin. I can’t go back to the brick-and-mortar, now. In fact going for a walk in the rain now, methinks. Thanks for checking in, happy Saturday to you and Sue. Bill


  2. “My God is in the woods.” Yes, me too Bill. Even as a little girl, I remember going to church once with a neighbor, and feeling so out of place and lost, not knowing when to kneel, stand or sit. But I was always comfortable in the woods across the street, and on long rides which were rare in our family, I spent the whole time staring out the window into the woods along the parkway, with an incredible sense of longing. That was where I connected to IT. My favorite beaches are on islands blanketed by woods that grow right up the sea, full of life and mostly devoid of people. I’m always mystified by people who are not deeply moved by these things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s beautiful Ilona. Where did you grow up? I did in Allentown PA and it’s funny you use the word ‘parkway’ (I rarely hear that word and I lived right next to the Lehigh Parkway). Happy Saturday, happy fall. Beautiful, sullen gray day. Bill


      • Connecticut Bill. Seems like a different world and a different life now, but I still have plenty of family and friends that keep me going back to visit–yearly now as we all grow older.
        Yes, they say our winter may be wetter and colder so time to hunker down Bill. Take care.


      • CT! Cool, thanks for sharing. Lovely state, only been there once when we drove up to Mystic. I think I got our shit car towed through four states, cost more than the value of the care but AAA paid for it. Bill

        Liked by 1 person

  3. sounds like your are finding a bit of balance…. and the woods are it for me as well –


  4. I should write you off-blog, but I’m managing a website rebuild along with a flirtation with rebranding, and I have been thinking, “I could really use a deck, or whatever that project management stuff is that Bill does.” Like, I say I’m taking an intuitive approach, but really that’s just code for winging it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Write me off-blog, off-world as they say in Philip K Dick land. Be my guest. Happy to help however. Whatever it is, I do. Not sure it will pan out, but why not.


  5. Is it significant that I understand the Philip K Dick reference but don’t know what a deck is?

    (Unless, of course, it actually is a ship’s deck or a pack of cards or the platform out the back door where you sit with a beer on warm evenings).

    My words seem elusive at present. Am I dry like that song in the sink when you return after a week away? Stiff, stained, non-absorbent? So there’s comfort–some comfort, anyway–in reading your words. Thanks.


  6. Your attitude towards work sounds about right – clock in, clock off, do it but don’t miss it when you’re not there. And I love that comparison between kids staring at their phones and praying. See so many people doing that when I’m travelling to work – I’m scribbling, or just watching, their thumbs are hard at work scrolling through facebook feeds, in their own bubble. But I retreat into my bubble too, create a world to hang in while I’m travelling. We all retreat. Nice words Bill

    Liked by 1 person

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