My wife is happy that instead of focusing my angst and frustration at her, I have a new target. We work together, and we are part of an amazing team that is helping our church navigate some difficult times. Probably against our better judgment, we share an office – the second bedroom of our condo, located over the garage.
My dad had once wisely opined that wallpapering together was a true test of a marriage. Their marriage has survived 71 and a half years, so he can say things like that.
He, however, never had to work from home with my mom. Walk a few miles in my socks, dad… Previously, this room was my sanctuary, where my library is located. I could come here and meditate, read, gaze outside at our neighborhood, and wrap my head around things that were causing me disquiet.
Now, my wife has a table set up alongside my desk and sits a few feet away from me. Not even the proper distance for physical distancing. When we talk to each other, it can be terse, and short, and sometimes through gritted teeth. She is a driven person, able to keep her nose to the grindstone, can work hours on end at the same vexing project, and she will eventually bring it to its knees and vanquish anything. She is meticulous, organized, and efficient.
Enter me. Mr. Poster Child for ADHD, disorganization, and disarray. Don’t even mention multi-tasking to me, single-tasking seems like Mt. Kilimanjaro to me most days. I can take on 27 things in a day, and at the end of the day have 43 things added to my “to do” list. If I compiled “to do” lists. Once in a while, I do like to make lists, but only because I can throw them away in a few days when I feel like cleaning up my desk in order to avoid some of the 27 things that I should be doing.
For me, making a list becomes populated with things that become “to don’ts.”
So that is the drama and tension that permeates our workspace. I fancy myself a creative type. Right now, I am bursting with pride at knocking out six or seven paragraphs of wonderful prose that shall fall in front of your eyes, hopefully, soon. I love the way that she honors her farm-girl roots, she is diligent and often quotes her beloved dad, a wonderful farmer with a gentle soul who never left a chore undone. He’d say, “You work 8 hours for 8 hours pay.” It more than made an impression on her. She gives about 60 hours a week for whatever her salary is based on. This is not a job, she has a mission and a heart for doing what she can to help her church, the church which she has called home all her life, not just succeed, but thrive.
Instead of inspiring, it embarrasses and highlights my own inability to focus and stay on task. Get on task, start a task, do stuff, do something. It is probably the real source of the discord here. It rankles me that I am face to face with my squirrel watching, dream-chasing, thought scouring self on a minute by minute basis.
I loudly proclaimed that no one is going to be safer at home because appliances (laptops, DVD players, tablets, whatever…) will be flying about the interiors of our homes, bouncing off walls and out windows.
Technology. That is the new bane of my existence. My office mate and I laughed out loud several times today, as I let loose several times today on technology and its uncanny ability to frustrate me at nearly every turn. In Wisconsin, our governor has extended our “Safer at Home” directive until late May. I loudly proclaimed that no one is going to be safer at home because appliances (laptops, DVD players, tablets, whatever…) will be flying about the interiors of our homes, bouncing off walls and out windows. Let me preface this with the proper disclaimer – technology is good, it allows us to stay in touch, it allows us to share documents and do all kinds of amazing things, it keeps us informed, it lets us see the faces of people that we have not met, or have not seen for too long. Earlier today, I sent the following email to our lead pastor, as the shared folder that we put our monthly reports into, suddenly after three years, no longer recognizes me. I wrote:
“For some reason, the “shared” drive says that I am not allowed to upload files to that folder, so I am attaching my report to this email. I think my laptop is confused because both Rhonda and I are using it and have both signed into our email accounts on here. I loaded my “unnamed” account and it still would not let me upload my report. Anyway, I love technology, except almost all the time. It might be stunned that I am actually getting it into the folder on time for once and doesn’t believe that it’s me.” That email message, of course, shot forth from my laptop after trying to get the report into that folder for about half an hour. I thought that folder was just entertaining itself by slapping away my report, and after the seemingly bajillionth time that I tried it, I did notice a message “You do not have permission to upload anything to this folder.” Well, la tee frickin’ dah. Thank you for that. Suddenly, after three years, are we breaking up?
And so here I am. Dutifully doing my deep breathing. Trying to remember that it was just yesterday that I sat with so many other creative, brilliant peeps from around the planet and pondered laughter on the “Friendship Bench” – the brainchild of Dennis Pitocco. I probably was not paying close enough attention, ya think? I was not totally plugged in, as I was working on something else while trying to soak up some of the good vibes from some of my new friends.
This too shall pass. I know it will. I say it all the time. This too – this situation, this crappy situation? Umm… this laptop may pass too, right past my lamp in the corner, right out the window. If I told the truth, part of my frustration was that I could not find my report at first when I set out to send it to the suddenly shy shared folder. I just wrote the stupid thing yesterday. Why? Because my wife, when she is at work, has a desktop, which of course, cannot be brought home. So, she is working on my work laptop, and I work on my personal laptop. Which means that a lot of the files that I need to work on aren’t on this laptop, and I need to transfer them from one to another.
And when I save files on this laptop, Microsoft has so wonderfully changed where it tucks my files that I can’t find them when I do want them. It probably makes perfect sense to the engineer who designed this new and improved way of doing things. He probably chuckles at my angst and flummoxification… it would be his head that my laptop would be directed at if I were able to pass one in his direction. Here pal, this too shall pass.
Do I feel any better? Probably not. I am just a guy who writes occasionally. I try to think more profound thoughts than this. I have a particularly good biographical sketch coming out soon, with lots of pithy insights, cool, reasoned perspectives, and reasoned thinking. That guy is in the room with me, but he is too busy aiming technological missiles at windows and walls. This too shall pass. I love my wife. I really do. We just need separate workspaces. Technology and me? Definitely on the rocks. Speaking of which, it’s happy hour.