Posts Tagged ‘late’

Crash Land

3 September 2010

Dear J-

Late again and my head keeps swirling with the various rumors that reach my ears secondhand: the big boss onsite has apparently been ousted and replaced by a retired ex-head of another nuclear plant. Sometimes when I write of sports metaphors and general managers firing head coaches I don’t expect to be talking about them in real life. There are those who say that they have to know everything about everything and doubtless they’re nit happy to be the last to know right now.

I suppose it comes as not a huge shock — we always seem to be slipping back when it comes to peer-reviewed performance — and so this must have been in the works for weeks. At the same time, though, I can’t imagine how hard it was to work as a lame duck, knowing that you’re getting the rug pulled out from under you at the end of the month. Or, apparently, Thursday.

It means more changes, and more excitement to go along with heading into our fall outage. The drama continues at our site; changes bring renewed interest but also new scrutiny and it’s already getting hot under the magnifying glass.



Super Lately

3 August 2010

Dear J-

So this morning:  not just late, SUPER late.  I woke up right when I was supposed to be pulling the van around to pick everyone up.  A few phone calls later and I was on my way, shifting everyone’s schedule down by half an hour.  Then afterwards, trapped at the gas station, I made the fatal error of trying to reverse out of a spot and ended up crunching the front fender a teeny bit (I stopped once I heard, but the damage was already done).  Good day?  Sure.

It’s attitude.  My teachers were as much philosophers as educators, and one of the things they liked to hammer in was how despite what kind of day you might be having, it’s no fault of the folks around you — who usually just want to help, after all.  The silence on the vanpool was telling this morning, although I think I read too much into it — after all, these folks are generally unconscious for the whole ride to and from work.  I was hyper-aware of it today.  Self-blame, after all, is going to be far more incriminating than anything they could dredge up.

It’s done, too.  You can fix it.  You can learn from it.  But it’s already done, and you have to live with it, regret, warts, and all.  One of the rules of time, friend:  no going back.  That takes courage, which I have a serious lack of at times.  Finally, it’s a learning process, and I think that’s why the teachers were the ones who pointed out the lessons early and often.


No Excuse

9 March 2010

Dear J-

I did get to ride my bike this morning; I just got to ride it more than I might have wanted to start off with. I left a little late (there were a ton of distractions that kept me around, from reading one last section of the paper to checking the weather one last time) and I got to the pickup spot correspondingly late — maybe a minute or two — but late enough: as the cliche goes, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Thus I got to watch the sun rise over San Clemente Canyon this morning — and I got on the road an hour after locking the door the first time, the one hour drive stretching before me.

An hour and a half is a long time to stew about things, but the truth is I’d already decided there were a thousand things I’d done that morning that would have made me on time if I’d done things slightly differently, so I’ve only myself to blame. I have a real tendency to externalize problems — at work today I felt myself backpedaling and making mealy-mouthed reasons why things couldn’t get done. For as many opportunities that I had to get things done, there I was reading about something intriguing on wikipedia, like California switchblade laws (balisong trainers are legal) and the secret identity of Simpsons guest star John Jay Smith. I am fond of citing distractions, but I’m plenty capable of distracting myself, right?

There is so much to learn about in this world; there are a million books worth reading, thousands of useful tools that we would find useful. Part of the reason I like what I do and, on the flip side, part of what I detest is the research that goes into every little piece of work we churn out. You get to play detective and hunt down the clues (they’re out there) but it’s not always interesting, and fatigue sets in quckly. You can eat ice cream all the time, but you’d get sick of it pretty fast. Yet it’s what I do, and I make no excuses for it.


The Gap

6 January 2010

Dear J-

I got up late this morning, rushed around putting things together for the day, and flew out the door on the way to drive the vanpool. Since then I’ve been trying to catch my breath all day, pulled in a million directions at home and work. I’ve been easily distracted (and even now am trying to multitask between television and writing — forty false starts later, I go back to the advice Professor Ogden gave me: write what you know) trying to justify spending money on junk I don’t really need while putting up a semblance of productivity. Keep pushing on; all the good deals in the world won’t make up for being stuck indoors during daylight.

The longer you spend ignoring the obvious, the more painful it becomes when the veil is ripped from your eyes. It’s been a hundred days of expanded schedules — at least fifty hours a week — and none of us is particularly amazed or surprised to find out we’ve still got a month of long hours stretching out before us, spinning away past the horizon. Fight your way past the malaise; let the crisp words drop like snowflakes and cover your tracks as your actions flow without thought. It’s been a long time since I could catch my breath, I was just saying.

Where do you dig up enough ambition to make it through the day? The week? The project? Motivation comes from within, I suppose, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to have the universal threat of disapproval and censure. When the icons of your life fail to intrigue and beguile, when six easy pieces become six feet underwater, I know that the cycle starts again. That wheel turns with surprising speed; mind the spokes, mind the gap.


Clock Change

25 October 2009

Dear J-

The second day on late shift is harder, at least for me; I’m surrounded, seemingly, by folks who tirelessly labor into the night and all i can think about is how far I have to drive and how long it’s going to take.  figgy has no great respect for boundaries or late bedtimes, and proves an able and reliable alarm clock to get us moving in the mornings.  This Sunday, like the last time I worked both days, we spent a decent amount of morning together, then I retreated for a secondary nap, which only serves to chop up the day into blurry bits of discontiguous consciousness — was it yesterday, was it this morning, was it the nap I took?

The last part of the day is always full of uncomrpomised details I never notice, not having spent the last few years conscious of most double-digit evening hours, it’s still a shock to look down and see the clock threatening to change from PM to AM.  Nothing to it, I suppose, but to wrap my mind around it and pretend to be flexible, but I constantly find myself mourning the loss of quiet nights spent at home.


Time Stops II

1 September 2009

Dear J-

This weekend, then, as typical with most weekends, I turned off my alarm and slept the gloriously exhausted sleep, guilt-free until the sun and figgy made it impossible to ignore the day.  Unfortunately, unlike other weekends, I also failed to turn the alarm back on Sunday night; were it not for a lone figgy cry at 5:20, I don’t doubt that I would have slept on through the sunrise and a good chunk of work.  Worse yet, I was slated to drive the van yesterday, so between making amends for that and the robotic actions of a typical day, I didn’t get enough done.

I’ve talked about how the start of a day affects everything downstream; I don’t think I ever got over that first panicky rush after waking up and realizing just how late it was — within thirty seconds I already knew, rationallly, that there was no hope of recovery (perhaps if I’d kept the van at home over the weekend, but that would have required far more forethought than I had), but I still felt like I had to keep pushing forward all day; no time, no time, no time to talk but hurry on and make way for me.

We’ve all heard the saying that time waits for no one, but I could have sworn that there was a palpable delay between hearing that cry in the dark (it was the sort that she gives after waking up, disoriented, before rolling back over and heading back down into slumber; you too will understand the variety and meaning behind each cry) and the comprehension of those digits on the clock.  Though I’ve tried to beat it through various means — setting the alarm extra-early, setting my watch fast — it still plays tricks on me, as hours pass for minutes in mere seconds, and seconds stretch to eternity.


Time Tales

5 August 2009

Dear J-

I keep my watch running fifteen minutes ahead of actual time — said actual time being defined by a radio-controlled atomic clock on the wall at work, which I set my watch to during another interminable meeting.  This is silly, no matter how I look at it; I always end up having to do a bit of mental gymnastics when glancing down at my watch, although fifteen minutes on an analog watch is no big deal, mentally rolling back the big hand by ninety degrees.  Plus the watch itself is sort of an anachronism with a 28,800 bph heart; we have cell phones which tell much better time — and never need to be set — on us most of the time anyway.

I used to own the kind of watch with both digital and analog displays, which was ultimately maddening as they refused to run on the same mechanism; either you learned to live with the fraction of a second discrepancy or you spent the better part of five minutes getting them sychronized adequately.  Part of that thinking carried over when I switched to analog-only; I used to set the watch anywhere from five to ten minutes ahead, but reading the time and then subtracting seven minutes became another laborious chore.  Fifteen minutes is a right angle and that makes it easy.  When someone asks me the time, they’re really asking one of two questions:  am I late, or how much longer do we need to wait?  Depending on the reaction I want (don’t worry about it or hurry up; or not much longer now) I’ll round up or down to the nearest five minute chunk instead of the precise time, which I was all too guilty of with a digital watch.  No one needs to know it’s precisely 5:28.  No, 5:29.

Time is a descriptive, not a number; we have our tools to measure it but the easiest method is via shared experience.  The moon set this morning in a roiling mist; I walked into the long light streaming in via the open curtains and looked up, surrounded by the quiet of a dark house before the lights come on.  Or perhaps it was that golden minute twice a day when the sun illuminates the bottom of the clouds but hasn’t ascended to its throne in the sky, and those clouds, now blushing, skid past just as majestically.  No?  Shuffling your feet past that house — you know that house, where grass grows wild in the summers and the sidewalk is never shoveled — you step on the brittle fallen leaves to hear the crunch underfoot match the crisp tang of cool air and woodsmoke in your nose.  I’ll bet you know exactly what time it is.


Running Light

12 March 2009

Dear J-

I ran late this morning — though it’s relaxing to be able to sleep through the alarm seamlessly (having bought an obsolete clock-radio years ago for the intent that its manual dexterity requirement and broken snooze button would mean not being able to sleep through, I’ve since trained myself — in my sleep, no less — to figure out the right knob and action through muscle memory), that shot of adrenaline you get when you realize what time it really is must be more effective than any amount of caffeine.

I’m finding excuses to slow down a bit, going home; not that I don’t want to be there, it’s just the things that are revealed under daylight makes me appreciate San Diego a bit more.  Right now, after the rains and before the blistering sun, everything’s green and overgrown — not the sort of creeping kudzu that I find amazing, but a sort of bristly Chia Pet-style low stubble — and the secret places lining the canyon sides look ever more mysterious.

When you think about it for a while, the days do go faster when you’re so busy you can’t think; maybe that’s the point, though.  If you ponder it longer, you dredge up more ugly half-truths:  what’s more important, doing the right thing, or doing things right?  Appearances and propriety drive so many of us, but it’s still not clear whether the light of day throws them into starker relief or makes us spread it on a little thicker.


Fame Fast

5 March 2009

Dear J-

Forty hours is forty hours, no matter how you slice it up; late to bed inevitably means rising late, and I ended up nearly running out the door half-dressed this morning.  You feel the end of the day acutely, whether it’s been easy or active, it all adds up.  Sometimes it feels like walking out the door means going to your inevitable doom at work, where the piles are neverending and the questions come flying.

You end up finding your sanity in different ways, though.  Creative thinking seems discouraged, but in truth it’s only as far away as you make it:  there’s plenty of opportunities for composition and creation no matter where you end up stalking about.  A steady hand and confidence go a long way.  When I was ten, my mom’s friend remarked that I was proud — in the world of possible interpretations, I took that to be a positive thing:  don’t I have a lot to be proud of, no?

It always feels like such a thin line between pride and being prideful, though, right?  When did we decide that standing out was a bad thing, after all?  We like to recognize accomplishments but we condemn the unhumble heroes; we wax rhapsodic about others but never ourselves.  So we wait, patiently, to be tapped and celebrated, dropping unsubtle hints and hopes.  Funny that we hope for fame and wish for obscurity, but I suppose the very notion of aspiration means something you haven’t got.


Long and Short

11 June 2008

Dear J-

Woke up late this morning, probably saved only by the relatively thin cloud cover overnight — it was actually the dawn’s light that got me up and out.  Just like drowsing at the wheel, nothing quite gets you awake like a good shot of adrenalin and panic (did I really just drift over a whole lane without noticing?).  Still, not as bad as it could have been; there was at least one final in college I slept through the first hour of (then I was saved solely by my proximity to the test site, roughly half a block).

It may be the clock-radio’s fault; for the past few years I’ve been relying on an un-modern model, with a broken snooze function and a dial that turns off the alarm, on the theory that the greater the manual dexterity required, the less likely I am to be half-asleep when I have to manipulate it.  Sadly, this is often not the case, as I’ve since developed the skill of turning the alarm off and forgetting that I’ve managed to do so, although generally, my slumber gets broken up into five-minute chunks from there on out.

We continue our steady march, daily routines blending into weeks and years seamlessly.  The relentless progression of what feels like the same hour again and again makes me think that I’m not paying enough attention to the world.  Here’s figgy’s pictures from last month, seemingly no different from today, but there’s changes here beyond my imagining;  now steadier on two feet, now stringing together more syllables and longer babbles, now pointing and refusing and revealing ever more of who she is.  And three months ago?  The slow accretion of changes means that nothing’s visible on the micro scale.

Contrast your memory of how long summers were when you were ten with how long they are now.  How much longer is a year at 10% of your life versus now, a mere 3% of it?  Yet change is still everywhere, should you care to look for it.