Monday, August 24 2020

simulation work day and a whole year of journaling

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Monday, and welcome to the work week. There's a different kind of energy permeating my house this morning. I'm not sleepily shuffling around in my bath robe. I have a real outfit on. My shirt even has a collar (OK fine, that's just because this is the last shirt I always wear before I do laundry).

The house is a little cleaner than usual. The smell of burning mineral oil wafts off of our freshly scoured and greased cast iron pan cooling on the stove top as thin wisps of white smoke dissipate in the air. This morning, that smoke serves as a burnt offering commemorating a new phase of life: returning to work.

As silly as it sounds, the first thing I did when I rolled out of bed this morning was log into my work portal to double check the date. According to my irrationally paranoid left brain, there is still a small chance that sixteen weeks later after double checking the date dozens of times I could still have gotten it wrong. Maybe I was supposed to start this morning? Or what if I was supposed to start last Monday and everyone is going to be so angry with me!

Not the case. We're all good here. I'm right where I'm supposed to be, and isn't that a good feeling?

All this anticipation, and I don't even start work today. My first official work day is tomorrow. Marissa and I are just using today as a "dry run" to kick the tires on our new daily routine. After finishing this entry, I'll get Rodney out of his room, cram a cereal bar in his mouth, and set him up on the couch with some TV before tagging in Marissa - just in time for my theoretical daily team meeting at 9:30 AM.

From there, I'm just going to hang out at the computer all morning as if it were a work day. I've made a laundry list of things that need a pass before tomorrow - catching up on email, updating my calendar, and throwing work at the kinds of things that make nerds happy, like new scripting and software updates.

And like I said - this is just a simulation work day. If Marissa gets into trouble, I'm planning on swooping in to catch puke or change a diaper with little consequence. Just a practice work day, after all.

Sip. The first day of the week. The last day of work leave. By pure coincidence, another important milestone is converging on this beautiful Monday morning. According to my stats, this is the 365th consecutive journal entry.

There's no journal entry for August 24, 2019, which makes me wonder if I have some kind of off-by-one error in the code that calculates that, but the important thing is that whether it's today or tomorrow, I've been writing a thousand words every day for a whole year. Please give me a second to pat myself on the back.

At first, I planned on dedicating this entry to look back on everything that happened. But while trying to get my notes together, I was overwhelmed my the sheer magnitude of things worth mentioning. I only got as far at visualizing what this time last year felt like. This time last year, I was anxiously planning my high school reunion. I was inexplicably becoming interesting in professional football. A few weeks from now, I'd be gutting through what was the most severe technical outage of my career. My baby sister was getting married. That fall, I would take Marissa to her first NHL game. Do you remember when you could just do things like that?

Scanning over the timeline in 2019, I don't even recognize some of the stuff I wrote about. It feels like it was from another life, or from a parallel universe where coronavirus never happened.

And since there are too many things to cover in detail, I'll just speak to what writing has felt like more generally. After so many journal entries, you'd think that the habit would be unconscious by now. Far from it! Every morning after rolling out of bed, I feel the same pang of laziness and procrastination I used to feel when I got home from school and I had a writing assignment due. I keep up the appearances of a self disciplined, self motivated adult, but inside my adolescent heart silently groans Oh c'moooooooooooon. Do I have to do it? Can I do it tomorowwwww?.

Don't worry - I'd never even consider skipping a day. The flip side to doing something every day for so long is that it becomes the normal. Marissa could testify that on the days that I don't get the entry out until the early afternoon or later, I'm irritable and restless. If I can't write, I get frustrated, feeling like I can't get on with my day. I feel like I'm still asleep.

As a final reflection, one of the most surprising things about this project was that people actually read it. I figured I'd get a few curious clicks every once in a while, but never would I imagine the consistent trend-line of 25-35 visitors a day that I'm seeing now. A far cry from the crude HTML pages I used to publish with a small script, now it almost feels like I'm running a real website!

Thank you, readers. Especially the faithful ones (I have a feeling you already know who you are). Knowing you are waiting for the next entry breathes a sense of purpose into writing every day. I feel a sense of duty to always do my best to make you laugh, make you think, make you remember things, and at the very least just remind you what day of the week it is.

Thanks for tuning into my journal every day. From the bottom of my heart, it is an honor waking up with you, the reader, every day.

Have a wonderful Monday, everyone.