So I’ve been accumulating vacation time, which I know is a stupid thing to complain about, but if I take vacation right now where am I gonna go? After all these months I’m not used to having where I live, work, and play all be the same place, and it doesn’t help that I’m an hourly employee–limited to forty hours a week, and I’m still trying to stick to something close to the same schedule I used to work: Monday through Friday, signing in first thing in the morning, taking a break for lunch, and signing out in the afternoon. Some days I work a little later so I can sign out a little early on Friday, for whatever it’s worth. In fact it’s easier to work later than it was when I was going in to the office, since most days I was bound by the bus schedule. Once in a while my boss would come to me late in the afternoon and say, “I know you’re about to leave but could you stay a little later and take care of this urgent matter?” And I’d say yes, thinking I’d just leave early on Friday, so it was lucky that never happened on Friday. I’d also mentally go over the bus schedule and figure that, no matter how quickly I could take care of whatever last minute matter was handed to me, it would still push back the time I left by at least half an hour.
I’ve been doing the same thing for several months, but with summer’s end steadily approaching time has been on my mind, especially the words of the late great Dave Allen:
And it’s not just the hourly or even weekly schedule I think about. There’s an annual schedule to keep in mind. I work in academia and right now, for instance, it’s a bad time for me to take some of that vacation time I’ve accumulated because classes are getting ready to start and we have a lot that needs to be taken care of so everything will be ready to start in January. And January is a bad time to take time off because of everything that backed up during the winter break. Then things slip really quickly into spring which is a bad time to take any time off because students are rushing to finish up their end of year projects and professors are starting to get ready for the summer classes, and then we get into summer and our fiscal year ends in June, so one of the busiest times in my office is when most people are on vacation, and then there’s the fall which is a busy time because it’s when all the students come back and the whole thing starts up over again.
The routine is also just wearing me down. I know some people find routines helpful or even comforting, and I like predictability too, generally, but the lack of of variety, of even the simple surprises of not knowing what I’d encounter on any given day have been getting to me. It’s why it’s hard to take vacation time: vacations used to be my time to do something different. That got me thinking about the late great scientist and author Oliver Sacks who would eat the same thing every day–he would even have a week’s worth or more of containers of the granola he had for breakfast in his pantry at any given time, and he arranged his outfits in advance so he could just grab what he needed without having to think about it, saving his brain to think about other things. He also traveled and studied a lot of different subjects, so he lived a pretty varied life. Well, I can’t get out, but I did get one of these:
And I put it in a dark corner of the pantry so I never know what I’m going to grab on any given day.
Maybe next I should stop having breakfast at the same time every day.