Brevity is the Soul of Apathetically #8: This is What They’re There For

Work has been particularly busy this month because it’s budget season. I have recently been reminded that busy times at work are what most people at most functional places of employment consider to be the height of workplace stress.

(That does make me kind of wonder what those same people would think if they only knew what I now consider to be “crazy stressful” at work given my prior job?)

As my boss is one of the people who have suggested that all my work “stress” lately means I should take a mini-vacation in the next couple of weeks, who am I too argue? Especially given that a roughly equal number of people have sent us that new British study suggesting that covid antibodies may only last a few months alongside the suggestion that my Partner and I might want to “use ours before we lose them.”

(That does make me kind of wonder if I should just be pleased that so many people remember how big a hobby ‘traveling’ has always been of ours and want to see us go somewhere before even the rest of the U.S. itself is off limits due to the inevitable consequences of their own inaction, or whether I should start to wonder if people just want to get rid of us for at least as long as it takes to go rent a cabin somewhere and then quarantine again for two weeks after we get back, as per state guidelines?)

Trying to figure out what “taking a mini vacation” even means in our post-pandemic world has been an interesting challenge. One that has so occupied my mind, apparently, that I entirely forgot to write a blog post this week.

So, have some random snippets of daily life instead. Because that’s what this blog series is for, right? Making sure you all can’t get rid of me long enough to forget me, even when I’m too “stressed” to have anything of importance to say?

*Watching bootleg fireworks on the Fourth of July in a residential area that seemed ill-suited to the close proximity of incendiary materials*

Lavender: “I’m glad we came, but I’m still going to be exhausted after we walk home.” 

Partner: “Being tired from a long walk is at least better than if the fireworks show had been right in front of our place. I don’t think you’d have had as much fun if you’d have had to watch wondering whether all of those patriotic displays were going to set our place on fire. Again.”

Lavender: “It’s a good thing it wasn’t the U.S. that had to get through the Blitz in World War Two. Things would probably have gone very differently for the world if we had been the ones who had been called upon to remain quiet and inconspicuous for eight whole months for the sake of the ‘light of freedom’ in the world.”

Partner (deadpan): “Hey. If those other cities are worried because they contain the munitions factories and supply depots, they can always turn their lights off. But why should the rest of us at low-risk for bombing by the Germans also have to sit in the dark?”

*Partner puts the s’mores into the oven on broil because he doesn’t trust Lavender to not to forget they are in there and burn them while talking about her struggles to set yearly forecasts for execs that never seem to want to think more than a quarter ahead.*

Partner: “I suspect it’s not that <Exec> doesn’t want you to plan a full year ahead. It’s that they don’t want you to tell them about all that planning until it inevitably comes up. You give too much information all at once. Neurotypicals can’t keep up with that. They want you to just manage their expectations while you also manage their numbers. If people are willing to just do what you want them to do right now, why risk them getting overwhelmed and no longer doing that you need them to do in the short-term by simultaneously asking them to also plan ahead for months from now? Just do it yourself and keep it on hand for later to look brilliant for having ‘anticipated’ the inevitable pitfalls. Other people aren’t good at planning ahea – ahhhh!!! Mistakes were made!!!”

*Partner removes charred lumps of dessert that had been broiled for five minutes when they should only have been broiled for three minutes.*

Partner (scraping the disaster into the trash): “I can’t even salvage these in grand camping style by scraping the burned marshmallow off. The graham cracker itself is burned. I started talking and forgot why I was in the kitchen.”

*Partner puts the three remaining uncooked s’mores into the broiler to salvage something of our treat.*

Lavender: “I’m setting a timer. Your time blindness is as bad as mine.”

Partner: “No, it’s okay. I’ll watch them the whole time.”

Lavender: “No really. I’m setting a timer. One of the reasons why I’m good at forecasting is because I never forget to include my own foibles into my models. If I’d made the s’mores, I’d have just admitted upfront that I have no sense of time and set the timer the first time.”

*Partner starts to object, then realizes he probably needs one after all.*

Lavender: “Have you ever considered that you might need me to manage your expectations for you as well?”

*Lavender and Partner attend a ‘live’ (on Zoom) beer fest where the hosts banter off the cuff.*

Brew Master 1: “I have been really into pilsners this year. People think there isn’t a lot of variety among pilsners. They all pretty much follow the Czech standard. But, that’s not really true. This next pilsner is very flavored by the local water that is unique to its upstate Maine brewing location. Its brewery is one of a growing number that have been putting their own unique spins onto this classic brew this year. I think I might even call 2020 the Year of the American Pilsner. What about you, <Brew Master 2?> What do you think 2020 has been a good year for in beer?”

Brew Master 2: “Well, I had originally hoped that 2020 would be the year of the lager, but of course that didn’t happen because 2020 has just kind of crushed my hopes and dreams for anything good happening.”

Brew Master 1: <awkward silence>

Brew Master 2: “Uh, in the beer world, you know?”

Brew Master 1: <awkward silence>

*Both Brew Masters rapidly pour out the next taster and pretend the previous exchange never happened.*

*Lavender realizes that Trauma Kitty’s dry food bowl has been elevated off the ground by being placed on top of an old copy of Rise to Globalism (by noted plagiarist Stephen E. Ambrose.)*

Lavender: “I guess I know what you thought of that book.”

Partner: “I thought Trauma Kitty might eat more if she didn’t have to bend her neck so far down. I think it hurts her sometimes. She is getting older. I was thinking of things that might be the right size, and then I thought ‘well, that guy is an idiot, so’…”

Partner (trying to comb his wet curls flat): “My hair has become an engineering project.”

*Reading a sign that a pretty local church welcomed back parishioners to modified church services.*

Partner: “It’s weird how a 2,000-year-old Socialist was re-flavored to spawn our current Hellscape. Like when did ‘what if we weren’t Old Testament dicks to each other?’ turn into….this…” *gestures lethargically at the world.*

Boss: “I didn’t get tested two weeks before I flew to <place where they have a vacation home.> I just self-isolated as a precaution. I don’t think anywhere outside our region is really enforcing self-quarantine for travelers after you arrive. Just work from home before and after you go and you should be fine. But, since I have a feeling you will worry if you don’t know for sure that you can prove you are negative before you commit the money to airfare, I’ll just say give yourself more than the two days to get your test results back in hand before you leave. When I tested again last Friday so I could return to work, they said two days. It took two business days. Don’t get caught up by the fact they don’t return tests over the weekend. Oh, and go to the test center at <Location 1> rather than <Location 2.> <Boss’s spouse> got tested at <Location 1> because it was closer to work, and those test results took forever.”

*Lavender to Partner later.*

Lavender: “So, is it more sweet or more weird that my boss tried to give me advice for how to assuage my inevitable concern that we’ll end up spending a ton of extra money if we go somewhere out of state because the proof-of-negative test I’ll inevitably feel compelled to get just before we leave won’t come back in time as part of the overall pitch to get me to take a vacation?”

Partner: “I’d call it sweet. Anyone who has met you for more than five minutes has figured out you overthink everything and assume that you’ll somehow be the only one too incompetent to have nice things. At least this boss took that in stride and offered you some practical advice for how to go have a nice time despite your own self-contempt.”

Need a recap of anything I’m talking about in any post? Check out my Glossary of Terms


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