off the grid, and kinda wrecked

19 Mar

So, you might have noticed I haven’t posted in two weeks.

It’s not that I haven’t had things to do; in fact I’ve been ridiculously busy, winging (on occasion, literally) around the country to take in the ambiance of various public sector conference rooms and admire their institutional-chic environs as lit primarily by PowerPoint slides.

It was just as exciting as you might imagine.

My first stop was the cozy midwestern metropolis of Columbus Ohio. As you likely already know, I have spent many a day in the Arch City over the last decade and change for various work things; and have gotten relatively used to getting around there and enjoying the local color. I didn’t get much of a chance to do that this time, given the length of my days staring at said slides, enduring interminable briefings, and getting chided by data trading partners who can’t seem to get it through their heads that I can’t make the department financial system pay their bills correctly if they send transactions with accounting lines like “INSERT CREDIT CARD NUMBER HERE”. I am not making this up.

At least I got some fresh White Castle.

Last weekend wasn’t ridiculously terrible; there was some dancing, as there nearly always is, and I got to spend a little quality time with the college kid on Saturday before hauling her back to school on Sunday. However, given the fact that my routine had been disrupted pretty significantly by the previous week, my nerves were becoming a bit fried; a condition that would continue, intensify, and remain in place as I type this missive.

Last week should have been pretty low-key; I spent it in class, as my social media friends were surely aware, ticking another box for my required program management certification. The class was what it was, a typical offering from the training body, titled “Understanding Industry”, which was supposed to help public sector folks understand the point of view, motivations, and actions of the private industry partners we work with. Mostly, it made me rememeber how much I hated business courses in grad school, and got me seriously considering a career change, and having a few chats with the boss on breaks about the future (not that any of us know what’s going to happen in the next couple of months – so many changes…).

At least it was off-site (only about two miles from home – if it wasn’t so cold – we had a weather-related two hour delay one day – walking or biking would have been ideal), which would be nice if my boss (who, if I’m to be honest, is a pretty chill guy), as I mentioned, wasn’t also there, thus requiring me to be a bit more diligent than I’d particularly like about checking office email to see what my contractor teams were fighting about. Mostly, I can trust my folks to do the job without much supervision (once schedule and requirements get sorted), but as I may have written before, they’ve been sniping at each other a bit lately and stirring up unneccessary drama. Luckily, nothing exploded.

Nothing at the office, anyway. On the homefront (particularly the child academic front) shit fountains abounded. Let’s just say it’s never a good week for me when I get an email from a teacher addressed directly to me and not the larger parent community. If my routine was already screwed given my wide-ranging and geographically distributed work situation, this really started the kettle boiling.

The fact that I was off my usual schedule (usually, on normal workdays, I’m home by 3pm or so – I was averaging 5:30 or 6 the last couple of weeks, and home was, for part of that, merely a hotel room) along with all this other stuff (family stress, work weirdness, unpleasant reminders of business school, and a long-simmering career-related internal crisis), seriously ramped up the stress. My shoulders pretty much permanently swallowed my neck given the tension, my body’s gone into starvation stress mode again holding onto everything way too long, and I came pretty close to seriously wounding several folks who couldn’t be bothered to manage their carts in Wal-Mart, to the point that my mostly patient wife arranged things that I could pretty much have this past Saturday free to do nothing.

I didn’t exactly do nothing – I ran a few errands and popped by the Chesterfield Library Comic-con on Saturday (a small little event the library system puts on that gets ridiculously crowded for some reason, and a few of my friends in the geek/comic circles tend to exhibit at), but mostly, I gave myself some long-overdue couch time catching up on Agents of SHIELD and zoning out to the entire xXx franchise.

Yesterday, feeling a slightly better (but not really), I threw some instruments into the car and drove down to Cary NC to play a “local” show with the Humdingers that afternoon, which was a nice time (as always), a good show to a small but enthusiastic crowd, and served as a decent rehearsal for the big stuff coming up this weekend on the west coast.

Yeah, as mentioned previously at some point, probably more than once, The Humdingers are playing Consonance, the SF Bay Area Filk Convention, (as Guests of Honor) this year. We’re flying out Thursday, and I’m taking most of a week off to support the music habit. At least they’re flying us out there and putting us up on their dime, and have found me an instrument to borrow on the other side so I don’t have to risk my own as checked baggage.

That said, I did debut The Spare™ on stage this weekend for most of our second set, since I got my parts in the mail last week and spent an evening doing some basic upgrades. It’s still definitely a budget instrument (it weighs a *lot* less than the Jazz bass, which is solid ash; this is basswood at best, likely plywood as well), but it’s *loud*, and not just because of the knobs that “go to eleven”. Whatever no-name pickups they put in it are surprisingly hot for something I have less than a hundred bucks invested in. it’s definitely solid for the purpose for which it’s intended, and looks pretty sharp, to boot, even rotated 90° to make the post flow better:

Anyway, that’s life right now. Still very stressed, a lttle worse for the wear, though I have something to look forward to if I can get through Wednesday.

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