Sunday, June 24, 2012

Returning to Normal: A Silver Lining?

Watching a vacation come to an end is never easy and always depressing.  After spending almost every waking minute outside in the sunshine for the past two weeks, the thought of returning to normal (spending virtually every second--waking and sleeping--indoors) makes it tough to get motivated to return to work tomorrow.  Not that that's ever been a particularly motivating experience, but tomorrow morning promises to be especially difficult.  It feels like a miniature version of the first day of school after a long and fulfilling summer of freedom.

There's plenty to feel sad about on this Sunday evening.  The bathroom situation alone is a real downer...I have to transition back to a world where I can't urinate wherever, whenever, and on whatever I choose.  That simple act changes from from being convenient and fun to something the authorities like to call "public urination" and/or "indecent exposure."  But in the spirit of eternal optimism, I'm committed to looking for the positives in this sea of negative. With some deep thought, a little creativity, and some bending and stretching of the truth, in no particular order I've listed ten reasons why returning to work and the normal routine tomorrow might not be as bad as I'm expecting.  I certainly hope I'm right...

#10: No More Children!
If there's one good thing I can say about the office, it's the blissful lack of children.  Aside from the occasional co-worker who brings a baby to work, it's pretty much all adults.  I'd forgotten how many parents drag their children to America's state and national parks.  I don't know how anyone could consider hours trapped in a car with children relaxing or enjoyable, but they seem to keep doing it.  The flight home late on Friday night, which included a chorus of crying and shrieking children keeping me awake the entire time, had me longing for the relative calm of the office.

#9: Away With Sunscreen
I love the sun, but I really hate sunscreen.  It smells weird, and it's annoying and difficult to wash off.  Now that I'll be spending my days sitting at a desk, with only occasional glimpses of the sun though a distant window, I can toss that bottle of sunscreen aside and watch my pasty shade of Minnesota white promptly return.  Only the most ghostly, pale redheads have to worry about burning under the 40-watt fluorescent blubs of the overhead cubicle lights, so I can rest easy come Monday.

#8: White Noise vs. Whispering Pines
I find the sound of the gentle breeze through pine needles and palm fronds very relaxing.  Giving that up would be tough if not for the low and constant hum of the white noise quietly floating from the speakers in the office. It's not quite the same, but at least the white noise is more consistent and predictable than the wind.

#7: Improved Hygiene
Spending two weeks sweating for 9+ hours a day with limited access to showers can take its toll on a person's level of cleanliness.  The past few days, I've been startled every time I glance down and notice the color of my legs.  It still takes me a minute to realize that's what my skin looked like before I got used to seeing it covered in dirt and dust...I'm even whiter than I remember!  And my nose has been far less offended by my own unpleasant stench lately.  I'm pleased to report that now that I've returned home, it's back to the normal routine of showering every third day like a normal person.

#6: Free From Free-Fall Danger
Arizona and California have a lot of mountains, canyons, and cliffs, and a simple stumble or a split second of lost focus behind the wheel can be the difference between life and death.  There are still plenty of unfortunate ways to die, but back in Minnesota, falling isn't one of them.  Here, the greatest dangers associated with tripping are a skinned knee and an embarrassing moment.

#5: A Slower Pace
No one wants to see their life pass by too quickly, but as the saying goes, time flies when you're having fun.  On vacation, a full day of hiking flew by faster than an hour in the office, and these past two weeks went by faster than a single day at work. I may not be having much fun once tomorrow gets here, but time certainly won't be flying by like it has been recently.  For the foreseeable future, time will come screeching to a halt. 

#4: Fabulous Fashion
I've said it before: fashion is my life.  With a washer and dryer at my fingertips, I can once again choose my attire for the day based on color, style, and the weather forecast.  That's a nice change from picking clothes based on the dominant variables of the past two weeks: fewest stains and least powerful odor.  And it was getting kind of scary to see how some of those clothes were able to stand up on their own out of sheer crustiness.

#3: (Don't) Bite Me!
All those hours spent outside on vacation gave the gnats, mosquitoes, flies, bees, wasps, and every other form of insect and arachnid ample time to chew on me.  The impressive quantity of bites I collected has my legs looking like they've been through a wood-chipper.  Minnesota is famous for mosquitoes, but they're not such a big problem when you spend all your time indoors.  That's not to say that my life will be free of pests...there are plenty of co-workers who bug me more than a swarm of hungry insects.  Unfortunately, it's a much more legally complicated situation to take a swing at a co-worker than it is a mosquito...

#2: A Return To Adventure Driving
Given the choice between the 2012 Nissan Altima that I was driving for the past two weeks and the 1998 Chevy Malibu, no one in their right mind would vote Malibu.  But where's the fun in driving a quiet, reliable, visually appealing car?  When I climbed into the Malibu at the airport and shifted into reverse to back out of the parking spot, I was greeted with an odd clunking noise.  Every time I hit the brakes, I get more strange noises.  But that's why they invented the long as it's still working--and it can't be long before that breaks down, too--I'll be drowning out the sounds of upcoming mechanical problems with loud music.  When driving the Malibu, I'm living on the edge...adventure is something that doesn't come standard with the newer models.

#1: Full-Size Keyboards!
Last but not least, I welcome the return of the full-size computer keyboard.  No more tapping on a tiny iPhone screen; back to the full-size, non-lite version of Blogger.  I can now churn out nonsense at a mind-boggling rate.  Prepare to be amazed!

See?  The old routine might not be that bad...I just need to remember what it was that I used to do at work.  And I have the added excitement of seeing who gets fired this week!  The corporate restructuring is in full effect, and the VP, director, and manager layoffs have been announced. I received quite a few transparent "So long; I've suddenly and mysteriously decided to pursue other opportunities" emails these past few weeks.  Tomorrow kicks off the wave of analyst layoff announcements, which promises plenty of entertainment.  Will I have a job?  Fortunately and unfortunately, I don't doubt that I will...but how will it change?

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