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March 14, 2013

Work

I wake up at 1:00 AM in a cold sweat. That is not true; I don't actually wake up, because I haven't actually been asleep. The mind gets loud when the house gets quiet. Two days into a four-day closed-door phones-and-computers-off work team planning meeting. It wasn't actually "work"; there was thought involved, and creation, and the foxhole banter of disparate people brought together for a common cause. (We'd call it "ball-busting", but my team - Internal Communications - is attached to H.R., and doing so might prompt meetings of a different sort, the kind where a stern-faced Generalist takes notes and decides your future with the company, or lack thereof.) What didn't actually wake me: I have a PowerPoint presentation to do later on that day. There are slides that needed to be finished. I was charged with speaking for an hour about what I'm going to be doing this year. The car: we'd gotten rear-ended on Saturday, Lucas' birthday, on the way to his favorite restaurant, and the back end of the thing was staved in, bent metal and torn paint, drivable, yes, fixable? Who knew. The dishwasher is still busted. The range top either needed one new burner - the thing is ten years old, so who knew if that part even existed anymore - or needed to be replaced. Bills. The kids are getting older, and "pushing boundaries". The dog is getting older, and pushing the limits of his mortality. A few weeks ago I had pitched an article to a magazine about why I'm happy being a working dad once again, how being around adults and doing grown-up things like content marketing and comms plans and social media strategy for an actual company and not myself made me feel like a grown-up myself, like I'd recognized that my kids were beginning to chart the courses of their own lives, and that I was letting them do so, and by doing so was doing so for myself. We were all equals in a sense. No response from the magazine. A week from the time I write this - 5:30 AM on the morning of my presentation - I will be in Austin, Texas, among thousands of smart motivated people, and I'll be thinking about my fuckups, specifically in regards to the kids, their behavior, the wildness, the tantrums, the distractions, getting in trouble at school - that phrase "we think that Something Might Be Wrong With Them" and how it is such an indictment, not of them, but of you. At one point I'll find myself sitting on a 6th Street curb, smoking an American Spirit, listening to a cover band rip through Johnny Cash's "Cocaine Blues" and if you looked at the picture of me doing so you'd think I was looking into the warm Texas sun, but no, what I'm doing is staring into the gaping maw of What Could I Have Done Differently. That's in the future. Right now it's 1:00 AM. I'll roll out of bed later on that morning at 4:30, or an hour ago. I'll go downstairs and microwave a cup of yesterday's coffee. I'll smell the dogshit on the living room rug before I see it. Then I'll check my phone and realize that the PowerPoint presentation is not due today, but tomorrow.


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