Monday, March 16, 2009

Odds and Ends

There's a bit of a new paradigm at work lately (departmental realignments, new responsibilities, longer hours) and it's starting to affect my life outside the workplace. I've been feeling really...disconnected in recent months. The economy has everyone on pins and needles and so I haven't dared to be seen surfing the net during work hours. It doesn't matter that I'm usually here quite late and fifteen minutes online will most certainly be made up later in the evening. Most of my time online is spent at home in the wee hours and, frankly, by then I'm not much in the mood. I have a huge backlog of emails to deal with. (I recently heard from a really good friend of Mike's...and mine...from college who just heard the news of his death and haven't had the time—or the heart—to respond yet.) And, worst of all, I don't think I've picked up a pencil to draw in two weeks. I've often referred to myself as a compulsive doodler (something my art teacher in high school called me) but lately...I got nuthin'. It's very disconcerting. Never in my life have I experienced this. There have been many times when I've hated what came out of my pencil and just wanted to give up. But I've never gone this long without the overwhelming urge to create something. Even just a head sketch on a post-it note.

Part of it is frustration at work. We're being expected to learn a lot of new software that I'm really excited about but we're not being given any training or even the time to learn it ourselves during work hours. Nobody has come out and said it but I assume they want us to stay after hours. Since Suze and I ride in together, on the occasions I don't have to work late, we usually run for our lives. And besides, there are so many other things I want (or need) to do on my own limited free time that the conflict is starting to drive me nuts. I think that, with all these demands on my time, I've gotten to the point where I don't want to face any of it and I'm just shutting down. Which is not good because now is the time I need to dig in my heels and start accomplishing as much as possible.

I keep hearing Mike in my head. Whenever I'd get like this and complain to him about it, he'd get frustrated with me and say, "You got a job? You got health benefits? And a retirement plan? Then what are you complaining about? Shut the *#@% up and do your job!" Then I'd realize he was right and laugh and take his advice. So I'll try that now.

A couple of bright spots. A new theater recently opened here in Richmond and they're trying something new. Since they're new, they installed digital projectors (something established theaters are reluctant to spend the money to do) and sound systems so the presentation is incredible. This is the theater at which we saw WATCHMEN. And, this past Sunday, THE MALTESE FALCON. I've always been a fairly big Bogie fan and FALCON and THE BIG SLEEP are my two favorites of his films. The Bow-Tie Cinema (as it's called) has something called "Movies and Mimosas" on Sunday mornings. As you can guess, mimosas are served in the alcohol in the theaters...and then they show classic movies. This is my chance to see all the great old movies I've loved my whole life (like just about all of Hitchcock's films) but never got to see outside my living room. Not only that, but this sort of thing doesn't attract the element that ruins the movie-going experience for me. You know the type: people that don't want to see the movie but want to be seen at the movie, usually going to extreme measures to attract attention to themselves. None of that at M&M. Going to see FALCON with Suzanne and a theater full of people (It was a packed house!) who actually were there for the movie was nothing less than delightful. I hope they keep this going for a long time.

Also, Suzanne and I are nearing the end of our 10K training. I have to say that this year has been a bit of a waste for me. I haven't made any progress and have actually gotten in worse shape. Just walking six miles on Saturday laid me up for the rest of the weekend with aching hips and back. A bad cold and an endless series of back injuries really took their toll this year and I'm probably going to end up walking the race for the first time this year. That makes me sad but at least I'll get to hang with Suze this time. But one thing I have managed to keep up with is my weight training. I missed a couple of weeks because of the back problems but I've really made a point of keeping up with it. I feel like that's the one thing I can control these days. And though I'm not really in any better conditioning than I was in January, I'm a lot stronger. If I can keep my back healthy for a while, I may be able to accomplish something.

Okay, that's it for now. If you're a friend waiting to hear back from me, I'll do my best to do that this week. In the meantime, I'm going to make a deal with myself to not post until I have something to show. And hopefully that will be soon.



Jadielady said...

I saw Watchmen there too and it really is a neat building and lovely theater. Sound was perfect and the images were very clear!
I'm hoping to catch one of the Rocky Horror productions next time I'm in town.

Jadielady said...

Meant to say, in times like these, most people with jobs are taking on the duties of people who no longer have them.
Makes it pretty rough.

Josh said...

I know what you're talking about drawing wise. I've been having artist's block myself.

PJ said...

You know your story doesn’t sound all that uncommon to me. It’s a little disheartening but not at all uncommon whatsoever.

Although you are younger than me by a bunch of years, chances are your parents were part of a generation where they got a job and stuck with that job for a long time – benefits and job security were all part of the package.

Today though, we have to ‘‘reinvent’ ourselves every few years.

When I was starting out, there was an eagerness to learn new things especially where the computer was concerned. There was something quite exciting about it all and for whatever reason I find I no longer have the inclination to obsess over the latest app or utility as I once did.

Finding a balance between work and personal obligations is becoming more and more difficult the older a person gets. In your 20's and 30's you have the energy and capacity to burn the candle at both ends but in your 40's you really want to take your foot off the accelerator and start to enjoy life a little more.

Now too, the American worker isn’t just competing with other American workers, or even the latest grad (bright eyed and enormously eager fresh from ivy-covered halls) but workers from all around the globe many of whom are not even close to earning a living wage.

The emphasis has shifted, away from quality and experience to speed and volume. I’m not saying it to be discouraging because we all must confront change Just pointing out it’s a reality we all are confronting and you should feel at all isolated by it.

Like all things though, it’s just another ‘phase’ of life and more a question of making the best out of a difficult situation.

Thomas said...

You might take some stress off yourself about getting back in touch with that old buddy/friend. I bet they understand.

You could send him a quick hello with a link to your blog post when you shared it back then.

Warren said...

I understand how you feel. JOb burnout gets that much worse when the bosses expect more out of you when times are hard. It's not so hard to put up with if you see the higher-ups working harder too.

The whole country is in a funk right now. I hope it passes soon and we can all breathe a sigh of relief together.

About that theater -- dude, that sounds wonderful! I'd love to see North by Northwest or the Searchers on a big screen. Not in my town though. Watchmen was pretty much too highbrow for here.

Heywood Jablomie said...

I feel your pain matt-i have the same situation going on at my job as well. i'm just kinda sucking it up for now because in my field to have a job is lucky. hope things start looking up soon for all of us.

sounds like a cool theater you have. it would be cool to have one of those by us. doesn't even have to be as sophisticated-just getting to catch some old time classics would be sweet.