It’s hard to come back to work after being on vacation for a week.
Actually, I suppose it’s hard to come back to work after being on vacation for any length of time. Strictly speaking, I was out of the office for 12 1/2 days, arriving to that first day back less than half an hour after I dictate these words. That said, I did continue to reading email and dealing with some things remotely for the first two days of my vacation, treating it like a weekend where I was still at home.
And I’ll be very curious as to the final email total. I have specifically not logged in this morning, choosing to go into the building blind and just let things unfold naturally. I will, of course, have to run a quick report before the managers meeting at 10, so I can know what I’m talking about when it comes to last week’s numbers.
But almost more important to my mental well-being, is the amount of writing I didn’t do while we were gone. I literally took nothing with me to work on other than two notebooks, one pocket-sized to jot things down in in the moment, and one about the size of a trade paperback book to keep a vacation diary in. That vacation diary also included notes on geocaching, a few quickly scribbled poems, and some settings and character notes for what may potentially be a novel that is at least partially set in Curaçao. I’m going to take, partially, the stranded alien theme and mix it with some human trafficking, politics and culture as an external viewer might see them, and probably a few other odds and ends that will just find their way in organically. I don’t yet know if it’s going to displace the next thing I intended to write or not, but it is possible. And yet, the next major thing I’m intending to write after Battlefield is finished is supposed to be Bad Teenage Poetry, a fiction novel set in a small city in the mid-1980s, combining my memories with some research. I’ve got a lot of actual research to do, mostly in the manner of making sure the little details are right and not just fallible human memory, figuring on doing it as I went along to the most part, but so it goes. I am actually having a little bit of luck with working on two long fiction projects at the same time right now, so it’s possible I might continue that, although I do want to write some short fiction this year, and a fair bit of it.
But we’ll see.by
Have you ever noticed before you go on vacation that there is a $h!tload of stuff to do?
I don’t just mean the getting stuff ready, the prep for the actual vacation itself. You also have to do all kinds of stuff in advance for work to make it possible for you to go on vacation the first place: task to reassigned, things to get done, to email cleaned out, out of office responses, all the things that you would normally do as part of your job that need to be done still need to be done while you’re gone so you get someone to cover those. And then, whether you have older kids at home, house sitters, someone coming to hang out every day to feed and play with your pets, or nothing at all, there are still preparations you need to make for the house before you go away. It would probably be smart to be completely caught up on the laundry and dishes up to. The litter box won’t scoop itself. The garbage won’t put itself out. The leftovers won’t take care of themselves.
I mean, I’m not Arthur Dent. I’m not going to come home after being away any the three least fuzzy things in the fridge and thereby prevent myself from being patient zero in a space plague.
And then you come back, and you have all the vacation laundry to do, all the things to put away, all the things you brought back that need to be taken care of, and is all the housework that you really should have done before you left but didn’t, and some the garbage got missed, and there were two now unidentifiable leftovers tucked in the corner the fridge hidden behind the milk that you also should have drunk before you left. Then go back to work and there are hundreds of emails and a pile of paper on your desk and a long list of problems and issues that could’ve been taken care of in your absence but weren’t.
Just disregarding the financial cost of your relaxing vacation getaway, is there really a net gain in terms of stress and relaxation?
Make no mistake, I’m not saying you shouldn’t travel, but we seem to put an awful lot of baggage onto and in and around what’s necessary to do the actual traveling. Sure, maybe it’s easier if you don’t have kids or pets or a house or a job or any kind responsibilities at all. Maybe all those things together are building your background stress levels, not always in a bad way, to the point where you do need to go and relax for a week.
But maybe even if you do have all those things it shouldn’t be such a big deal. Maybe we just make it one.
Maybe I don’t have to make one.
Be well, everyone.by
by Or, as I’m also referring to it as: “Trip to the Little Lake on Big Island in a Slightly Bigger Lake”. Another excerpt from last week’s vacation.
Said trip involved:
- 10-minute drive to the appropriate boat launch,
- 5-kilometre paddle by kayak to the place where I tied the boat,
- Safely extract myself from the kayak without drowning or breaking any bones and make sure it’s secured so I’m not stranded,
- 40-metre climb that also covered about 20 metres in vertical distance,
- 25 metres worth of horizontal-ish bushwhacking without the benefit of a trail or path.
On a map (blue circle is the boat launch, red circle is where I stood at the tiny lake on Big Island:
Repeat in reverse to get back to the cottage.
Why, you ask?
To answer that, I’ll ask another question: have you ever wanted to stand somewhere no one has ever stood before?
This is a sparsely populated lake in a sparsely populated area. The island is up a branch of the lake that doesn’t seem to attract much fishing or boating traffic. It’s also completely undeveloped and I saw no evidence of human traffic at all while I was there. The only reason I knew the tiny lake was even there was because I was looking at the geocaching map before we left for our vacation, thinking about what caches we might like to get while we were in the area, and I happened to notice the isolated spot.
No, I’m not fooling myself into thinking that no one has ever been to that tiny lake before. This part of Ontario has been inhabited, if lightly, for thousands of years. The Madawaska River has had cottages on it for decades, and there were settlers in the area by 1800. There are people who live here year round and there are plenty of occasional/summer dwellers, too.
But it’s fairly well off the beaten track and I’d guess the number of people who have seen this spot is very small.
Yes, I left a cache there.
Maybe someone else will want to stand where few people ever have. If they’re a geocacher, they can sign the log book while they’re there. If not, it was a lot of work to get there and they can still enjoy the feeling of accomplishment to take in that quiet scene.
Be well, everyone.by
by An excerpt of last week’s life.
Order of Operations:
- Get up
- Walk the dog
- 3 km Kayak exploratory journey
- Martial Arts work out
- Explore remains of 1800s log cabin farm buildings
- Do something on the water (swim, kayak, sit on the dock)
- Watch the sunset
- Hot tub/Lounge on the deck (I’m likely the second one of these. Hot tubs are usually too hot for me.)
- Walk the dog
- Look at the stars
Other days have similar agendas, sometimes with a bigger exploration (the Bonnechere Caves and Eagle’s Nest lookout, for example). This just happens to be the day I’m writing on. It also provides something not too far off my ideal existence, giving me a variety of activities I enjoy, things to do with my family, and plenty of time for rest. Alas, the real world must eventually intrude, but not today.
Be well, everyone.by
by So as of yesterday, I’m on a two week vacation, not returning to work until Monday, November 12th, and I’ve got, as one or two of my kids might say, a crap tonne of stuff to get done.
Aside from World Fantasy Convention in Toronto from the 1st to the 4th of November, about which more (probably a lot more) over the next few days, I have a pretty big To Do list. This includes:
- Pounding out some serious new wordage. For every day I’m not at WFC, I’m looking for at least 1500 words of new fiction plus a blog post as often as I can manage.
- Doing a lot of editing. Setting aside at least an hour every day specifically for editing one of the three Warforge novellas I wrote last year. Revision notes are already accomplished. Long past time I made these fit to read so I can get to the next piece of the story.
- Finish planning on what I’m calling the Small Realities Indie Publishing Experiment. This is also past due, and part of my overall 5-year publishing plan, that I’ve also roughly planned.
- Record the raw audio for at least four short stories. And I even have them picked out. Yes, I’m finally going to start podcasting some of my fiction, as I’ve been promising myself I’d do for the last couple of years. The raw audio for two stories is already complete and one just needs a little second pass editing to make sure my retakes are good.
- Get as many as twenty stories out into the wild looking for home. This is, more or less two submissions per day for the days I’m available, and, I’ll be honest, that’s still well under half of what I have ready to go. I haven’t been good at submitting the last two years, for various reasons. In fact, I didn’t submit anything anywhere in 2011. That’s changing now.
- Get a full web site under way. I have the domains I want. I have a rough vision. Why the heck haven’t I gotten off my butt to get some web hosting?
- Gather up all the scraps of poetry lying around and turn it into electrons before I lose any of it. I wrote poetry on whatever is handy. The problem is I don’t always manage to get it into the computer. Some of it is decent and I’d like to hold onto it if I can.
That’s the creative list, and it seems pretty ambitions. Always aim high. But there’s other stuff to get done, too, a lot of other stuff.
- Finish Fall Cleaning. We’ve been trying to reclaim the house from ten years of life with children since we moved in at the end of 2002. It’s been a long hard slow, but with the exception of one room upstairs (see #2 in this list), the first and second floors of the house are pretty much reclaimed.
- Repair and paint Gamer Boy’s room. There are a couple of large holes, currently covered by framed posters, in one of Gamer Boy’s walls. These happened, and I think I’ll leave out how to protect the not-so-innocent, not long after we bought the paint. I’ll be supervising the repair job and will have some significant assistance from Gamer Boy for the paint job.
- Paint the master bedroom. A secondary task, if Gamer Boy’s room gets completed quickly enough. We bought the paint at the same time.
- Ease back into running. The last time I tried to get back to running didn’t work out so well. I forgot the cardinal rule: Take it Easy. Result, again, over stressed hamstrings and a calf that made me limp for three weeks and probably took twice as long to heal. I’m going to try again. Slowly, with the objective of being able to run a nice, relaxing 5 km by the end of the year.
- Finish the medium and long term financial planning. This has been a goal for a while, and we’re making some serious progress. For the short term, we need to learn to stick to the budget we set. For the long term, we need to figure out just what our goals are and plot an annually updatable path to reach them. Long past due.
- All the standard household chores. Too numerous to list and everyone has their own anyway, so how interesting would that be?
- All of the numerous errands and chauffeur duties that come with having three kids.
More than enough to fill two weeks of time, wouldn’t you say? Especially since there are four days more or less completely spoken for by World Fantasy Convention.
I’d better get busy.by