Posted by PintofStout on June 6, 2008
I’m sure regular readers have noticed the absence of any new substance here at the Bye-Laws in recent weeks – or maybe not, since it isn’t all that unusual. This particular absence stemmed from two things: I was busier than a one-armed paper hanger with work and school and then I was decompressing from such busyness by taking a week to do much work around the house. It hardly seems like decompression to go from sitting at a desk (and in my car) for 10-15 hours a day to the back-breaking labor of removing landscaping, but it was surprisingly refreshing.
All the urgency and immediacy of work tasks melted away with much help from alcohol and good times over the Memorial Day weekend. I even managed to finish a school project Monday night (got a 96% – woohoo!) to clear the schedule for the self-assigned tasks that lay ahead. Despite the late hour I got to bed on Monday, Tuesday morning came easy and I was out breaking up a 12′ x 4′ x 4″ slab of concrete in the front of the house by around 9:00 AM. This involved an 18-lb.sledgehammer and a rock bar (you don’t get these from pettin’ kitty cats!), not to mention the multiple loads hauled down the hill of my yard to dump the broken bits with the wheelbarrow. I followed that heavy labor by removing a yew shrub from the corner of the house, which involved a shovel, the rock bar, and the neighbor’s come-along. The shards of shrub were then cleaned up and the crabapple tree in the front yard was getting all the branches in my easy reach chopped in preparation of the whole overgrown thing coming down. I quit this when it started to sprinkle on me and from shear exhaustion. I felt rather good and accomplished, though.
The next day the apple tree came down (without taking out the power lines it was encroaching on) with my bow saw. All the branches, limbs, and such were removed, cut, and sorted by usable open-fire cooking size. Only the 6 or so cuts of the main branch and the cutting off stump below the ground level (after I dug it out) was done by the neighbor with his chainsaw; all the rest was with my bow saw. After a bit of rest, I removed some landscaping ties outside the front door, burned the ones I had removed the previous year, and called it a day.
Sunday, A__ and I transplanted some of the flowers from the front flower bed, which was going to have added dirt and new shrubs planted to match the new bed where the concrete was taken from. We also gently removed some boxwood plants from the front of the house that would be kept on a tarp and the roots covered with wet newspaper to keep them alive until they can be replanted against the house when the new dirt is brought in. The front yard was now ready to be regarded with some fresh dirt, rethought, and replanted. Earlier we had bought and potted a bunch of herbs, including some orange mint and spearmint (for tasty adult beverages), some thyme, some lemon thyme, as well as basil, rosemary, and chives.
The last time I worked diligently to an eventual self-assigned goal without feeling the lethargy and indifference of my everyday work life I uncovered a little of the nature of employment in our society. My self-identified laziness turns to dogged determination and energy when the task is something I want to achieve for a reason other than to have it done with. The reward for these tasks isn’t pay or money, but they are infinitely more fulfilling than finishing most projects for an employer. Even the pride of having completed a difficult work project and any requisite pay as a result pale in comparison to looking at something created with your own hands and labor. This energy was carried back into my employment as I anticipated rushing home to work further upon completion of my landscaping, including spreading and raking the 4 cu. yds. of dirt dropped off on Monday morning.
We did more than just work in the yard, though. We spent a day hanging lots of shelves in a newly-designated office upstairs to hold all of my books. We spent a day shopping for the new landscaping, and we spent an evening with Grandpa A__ listening to Jerry Douglas of Alison Krauss and Union Station fame play in a public park in Warren, OH. I even spent most of Saturday relaxing, watching television, doing homework, and dozing. This week of decompression and vacation held a little of everything.
So vacation wasn’t spent relaxing and decompressing on a beach or swinging in a hammock in the shade, but it helped me to decompress nonetheless. It allowed me to catch up on my life outside of work, spend quality time with A__, and get some rigorous exercise I can’t bring myself to do for its own sake. I hope the drive continues to push me to finish what I’ve started and to start something else. I hope that long days of soul-sucking cubicle-dwelling don’t sap me of this newly found momentum and relegate me back to the pale golem of cubicle hell.