Post 505: The laptop debacle

I left my laptop at the office on Wednesday night. 

Resting on its docking station in my organized mess of a cubicle, it beckoned to me. Backpack strap in hand, I reached over to undock, lift, and put my laptop into its cozy compartment. But at the last moment I stopped myself. And took a step back.

I realized it had been years since I had last left my laptop at work. In my early 20s I had a less-demanding job and my laptop entertained itself in its docking station all night, just about every night. I’d walk the 1.5 miles up the hill to my rundown apartment sans laptop, feeling free and thinking about what I’d spend my 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. hours doing.

Sometimes I’d paint. Sometimes I’d write. Sometimes I’d walk or (try to) run. I’d often make myself a fabulous dinner and drink a few double IPAs, and I always read books well into the evening, far past what is now my bedtime.

Knocking myself out of this cloud of reminiscence, I cinched the top of my backpack, folded the top over and put it on. I rushed out of the building, reminding myself that nobody knew my laptop wasn’t in my bag. 

But once outside I started to panic, and I almost turned around.

I have to do this and I have to write this and I never sent that one note and I was supposed to thank that one person but I never did and I know I owe her that story by the end of the night how am I going to do that if my laptop is at work?

I shoved these thoughts down and told myself that people can wait, not everything has to be urgent, and it’s unlikely you’d even open your laptop if you brought it home anyway. 

But it would be such a pain in the ass to get a text tonight and have to run back into the office to grab my laptop. You just don’t get it.

Okay, we’ll leave the work phone in the car, locked up all night. You won’t even know someone texted you, and shame on them for texting after hours anyway!

But what if it’s this person or this person finally gets back to me or they text me mad about something and expect an answer?

Who cares?

I do. 

Well you’ve been running yourself ragged for weeks, you haven’t exercised at all in nearly two, and you haven’t been eating very well. You’re not taking care of yourself.

You’re right. 

I know I am.

I’ll just watch that docuseries about the religious cult in Oregon and forget all about what’s going on in my laptop’s universe.

Good idea.

Cool.

——

At 10:00:

She’s going to be so pissed at me if I don’t get that story to her during her daytime in Japan. We both know I’m late. I’m just going to grab my phone from the car and make sure she hasn’t sent me anything. 

Okay phew, she hasn’t. But I still need to send something so she knows I’m working on it. Maybe I can borrow Nick’s laptop — or wait! I can just use the app on my phone that has all the documents in it. Perfect! I wonder if it’ll let me open in Microsoft Word on my phone — aha! It does! Oh perfect. I’ll just change those couple of things and send it to her so she knows I’m working on it.

Oh, Emily. What happened to you?

Post 504: ‘Go outside’

I called Nick because I’d had a frustrating afternoon.

The morning started out fine – I decided to work from home when I noticed I didn’t have any in-person meetings. I chugged along, answering emails, swapping the laundry and folding mounds of clothing. 

He spent the morning washing his bikes, checking his email, and stretching before going in for a later shift. 

After a quick visit to the local bike shop together in the name of work/life balance, I returned to my email. Because that’s sometimes all I do: answer email. 

I never made it up to my spare-bedroom office after folding all the laundry and stacking it in neat piles around the living room. I sat, holed up on the couch, scrunched, answering email. And, to be honest, I got totally lost in it. Absorbed, even. Touched by the urgency of each notification, I barely ate, drank water, or looked away from the screen. 

I fired off responses one by one, accepting some new assignments as they came in and skirting around others in politically savvy ways. 

Then there was one that made me want to throw my computer across the room. Then, shortly afterward, another. 

I often receive compliments on my work/life balance philosophy and the way I approach high-pressure situations. So it’s a good thing nobody could see my face beam like a stoplight and feel my pulse quicken, knuckles cracking in-between audible expletives. 

I called Nick because I’d had a frustrating afternoon.

He listened patiently and said the two words I needed to hear: “go outside.”

“Get on your bike,” he said, “and go for a ride, even if it’s just around town. You’ve been scrunched up on the couch all day and need to get away.”

I knew he was right. 

I shut my computer down at around 5:45 and prepped my gravel bike, Winifred, for a quick adventure. 

Down the hill and up another, the seasonal gravel road I chose for a 2.5-mile climb enveloped me in its tree-lined magical healing powers. I traversed puddle-ridden pathways and areas with more stream than road. I stopped thinking about work with each pedal rotation, splashing through puddles and picking lines to avoid large rocks.

After the first climb, I faced another – this one more daunting at 12.7% grade than I remember it being last year. 

But I did it. And I forgot about everything I was pissed about by the time I reached the epic downhill back to town.

My brain had switched channels to far more important things, like ice cream and what I wanted for dinner, instead.

There’s a massive hill hiding behind those trees, I swear.