So I’m sitting here trying to write up a formalized telework proposal, and it keeps getting under my skin how much I dislike teleworking when I don’t have to. So I decide, why not take a few moments and evaluate why?
Not getting out of my apartment more can leave me in something of a rut. This has to be understood in light of two things:
1) I don’t get out a lot anymore. Between the extremes of the weather, the issues with walking long distances, and lack of energy in general, I tend to stay confined to my apartment when I’m not working. When I was still a practicing postdoc, there was one stretch of time when I was working on a grant that I didn’t get out at all for two straight weeks. By the end of that stretch, I was a wreck. I could barely get off the couch. Even seeing my husband gave me anxiety attacks. When delivery people would bring things to our door, I would hide.
Drilling down on that and similar reactions, I find that I desperately hate the idea of being homeridden. How did I get here? The notion that I had anything like an ‘outside life’ atrophied as I made my way through grad school and then years of a postdoc. Things kept getting more difficult. My two approaches were always to adapt as much as possible and try to work harder. So there’s work, where you push, and then there’s “home,” which is the place you go to collapse and recover. Obviously, these are problematic associations. Obviously, I need to get out more. These are things I’m working on, but I’m not there yet.
2) I do not particularly like this space I am occupying. It being an apartment, there are only so many ways I can change it. I can put railings in the bathroom, but I can’t remodel it to a sitting shower with no slippery threshold to try and step over. I can plug in lamps until I trip breakers, but I can’t add overhead fixtures. (I am, in some ways, glad it is slated for eventual destruction as it forces a limit to my tenure here. We aren’t going to find somewhere as convenient for what we’re paying, but I’m hoping to end up near public transit, or for smarter cars to get cheaper. Excited about that latter point, really.)
Being told I can stay here more often is not as appealing as it might seem from the outside.
I’ve shifted my goals in life recently, and one is that I’ve come to realize I would actually like to own a home. I grew up with construction, and with it, the sense that the primary constraint on the mutability of living space is ownership. It was always our family’s little irony, knowing how creative construction was but only putting it in action in other peoples’ spaces.
Another goal is to start driving again. Safety assist technology is getting there. By the time it fully gets here, it will probably actually be affordable.
(If I could go back in time and tell my purple-haired high school punkish self that someday I would be wistfully thinking about suburban houses and new cars, I would probably get laughed at and then asked, no, who was I really?)
Between my dad and my mom, I probably moved about 15 times while growing up. It never bothered me. I was ready to be flung across the world by academia (before I realized the visa issues two people with chronic health issues would face in moving to any country with a decent safety net.) At 37, with two neurologists telling me I’m probably in the secondary progressive stage of MS, I’m happy just to land on my feet
Just, I need to start getting out more.
(File under: letter to my boss I probably won’t send but I needed to get the thought out.)