Friday, August 14, 2009

Portable Office

Being a compulsive sort of person, when I packed for my “vacation,” the most critical items were computer related—laptop, multiple cords, flash drive, iPod, a USB hub. When I unpacked all of my electronics, my daughter asked, “Where is your ergonomic keyboard?” Nine hundred miles from home is not the time to discover that little oversight. Oh well, the MacBook keyboard if wider than most and really not difficult to use. “It’s all fine,” I said, trying to sound hip. I got by with it.

“Where should I set up my office,” I asked, thinking surely someone would say, “Oh use my desk. I’m not home all day.” No one did. “The kitchen is fine. How about the table?” So, Plan A was the kitchen table. Wrong height. Chair uncomfortable. Hmmm. “How about pillows?” my son in law suggested and plopped a couple behind me. Better. “Or this massaging seat cover?” my daughter offered, setting it up and plugging it in. Nice, but hard to concentrate with that thing hitting me up and down my back.

Plan B was the kitchen counter. It looked like a good height, and the chair was in the right place. So, I spread out all over the kitchen island. Someone who shall remain nameless commented on the mess. In truth, it was pretty bad. Next, I tried my daughter’s office. She had a cute little table that looked perfect. Two hours later, I was all hunched over and had crick in my neck. So much for Plan C.

Plan D was my son in law’s couch, which was good for one afternoon. I used a cutting board for a desk. It worked fine, but by now, my back was in knots. Plan E was my bed with four pillows supporting me. Didn’t work. Way too soft. On the “great room” couch (a Florida term, I think), with my cutting board on my lap and my feet on the bottom of the coffee table, things were looking up. The problem was I stayed in the same position for hours and could barely walk when I got up.

Next and I hope the last stop: back to the kitchen island. But this time, I have the laptop on a phone book, and I am standing. This could really be the solution … except that standing for long periods of time is problematic with a bad back. Maybe, if I put on walking shoes, or stand on a cushion, or take breaks every once in a while, it could work.

My daughter observes my new arrangement. “I don’t understand why you don’t just use my desk,” she says. “It would be SO much more comfortable than that set up.”


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A vacation? What’s that?

I’m leaving town, something I do infrequently enough to make it newsworthy. I’d love to say this is an exciting business trip to New York or San Francisco, though frankly flying is such a pain these days, I can’t imagine how a business trip could be exciting. I’d also love to say I’m going somewhere exotic to sit on a beach and sip marguerites, but alas it isn’t that either. The truth is I’m going to visit my daughter, and I plan to work a good part of the time. “Travel light,” she suggested. “Just bring a carry-on.” I laughed. “My entire office is packed in my carry on.” The rest of my belonging are in the heaviest suitcase I’ve ever owned. What was I thinking?

I have told all my clients that this will be my chance to catch up on their projects, thus raising their expectations en masse. “I won’t be distracted,” I insisted, though that may not be entirely accurate. First, there is Milo (the wonder dog), who is the real reason for my trip. If you have ever read one of my blogs, you know all about Milo, so I shall spare you the superlatives.

Second, there is the pool, which is right outside my room; and though I cannot bring myself to swim at home, I cannot miss my daily swim on these annual trips. Third, there are “plans,” apparently lots of them. My daughter keeps sending me e-mails saying how would you like to do this … or go there  … or eat at  … ? And they all sound like fun, so, of course, I say yes. The only thing that augurs well for getting any work done is that my daughter and son in law both have jobs. Of course, my daughter plans to come home for lunch to be sure I’m not lonely. Fitting work into my busy schedule is going to take some planning.

The question is why do I take enough electronics and files with me to keep me busy for life when what I really need is to do nothing? Because I have commitments to my clients. Because I am incapable of doing nothing. And, because I am a workaholic. It’s not that can’t relax. I have also brought half of library of books with me to read during down time.

Years ago, a very good friend told me there are two kinds of people in the world: those who work to live and those who live to work. He was the former; I am obviously the latter. What would I do if I didn’t work? Who would I be if I were not a writer? It is not chic to pose those questions, especially on line (I am assuming here that millions of people are reading my blog), but since bloggers have implicit permission to be candid and truthful, I’m just putting it out there for all the world to read.

Frankly, I don’t have answers to those questions. All I know is that what I do for a living is what I do for fun, for relaxation, for an outlet, for a diversion, and on and on. At this point in my life, I’m not sure I would change if I could.