Thursday, January 17, 2008

Firing On All Cylinders

"Burnout" is such a strong word. That's why I'm not going to use it.

For that matter, neither am I going to tell you how my week has gone so far. I'm not going to tell you about all the service issues that suddenly cropped out of nowhere to land on my desk. I'm not going to tell you about all the rinky-dink seminars being given by other departments in the same building at the same time (which nevertheless all come with a free lunch). I'm not going to tell you about the split-second projects that people suddenly decided to dump on my shoulders. I'm not going to tell you about the fact that I ran through about twenty meetings, got yelled at by fifteen different clients, answered about two hundred e-mail messages, and the fact that the week isn't over yet.

Heck, I'm not going to tell you about my splitting headache at the moment. I'm not going to tell you about the bags under my eyes, or the three-hour sleep sessions. I'm not going to tell you that I barely have time to do anything else, much less the stuff that I've been forced to put on hold for a while: Writing. Plotting. Going out. Playing around. Taking baths. Changing my underwear.

I'm not going to tell you that I feel tired right now. I'm not going to tell you that sometimes I fear falling asleep into my keyboard. I'm not going to tell you that sometimes I walk around the office floor with a plastic cup of water in my hand and wonder if I should dump it over my head.

I'm not going to tell you that my dreams have been strangely empty as of late, and I'm not going to tell you that I can't seem to remember which words rhyme with each other. I'm not going to tell you that I suddenly don't know what the capital of Iceland is, and I'm not going to tell you that I've forgotten what fettuccine carbonara tastes like. I'm not going to tell you that I haven't even so much as checked the newspaper in the last week, and I'm not going to tell you that I can't find my little cast of stuffed toys for some reason. (It's probably wash day or something.)

But I am going to tell you that I'm still up and about. You'll know that I'm starting to wind down when the smoke starts coming out of my ears, when my breath starts coming in ragged smoker-rasps, and when I start spouting inappropriate random words in five-second bursts.

When I do, the instructions are simple: Just lean me over my desk, look for the rotator keys in the three slots somewhere along the small of my back, and wind each of them up. One key controls my thoughts, one key controls my speech, and one key controls my actions. (I grant bonus points to anyone who somehow gets the literary reference.)

Did I say that "burnout" was such a strong word? I'll say it again, then: "Burnout" is such a strong word. It feels good to resist the temptation to use it, I suppose.

6 comments:

Ida said...

I don't know about literary references, but "smoke starts coming out of my ears, when my breath starts coming in ragged smoker-rasps, and when I start spouting inappropriate random words in five-second bursts" sure makes you sound like you'll turn into a dragon someday! :P

Sean said...

Ida: Or Groucho Marx. *Bada-bump*

kyutbabe said...

Seems to me you're working too hard. Give burnout a chance. Only then will you be able to experience the liberating feeling that comes with not caring about Murphy's law as it applies to project deadlines and resource management.

And oh, it's Reykjavik :)

Sean said...

Kyutbabe: I now suspect that it has less to do with the workload, and more to do with the fact that I have to stop my style of micromanagement. I've been carrying around the notion that everything bad that happens on my watch automatically has my name on it -- which will probably give me nothing but ulcers in the long term.

For that matter, Reykjavik only made it into the article because people found it to be one of the most irritating pieces of trivia that I knew. And heck, I was exaggerating -- I never forgot it at any point.

cstiu said...

HELP also!

IS it maybe tough times for people of the year of the ****? (you know which one)

You can check the last time I posted anything. Its been that bad... and the past 1.5 months have been practically horrible. mentally and physically exhausting, and yet no corner to hide and breathe for a few minutes.

Hope things will be better for us , soon. But I fear mine may just be starting...

Sean said...

Cstiu: Depending on which horoscope I check, I'll either be lucky in love, or I'll be spending a lot of money on my elders, or I'll be encountering some bad gastrointestinal disorder sometime late this year. :)

Just hang in there, and take the opportunities for rest as they come. You don't have to write, you don't have to exercise, and you don't have to travel. Just take the breaks as they come around... hopefully things will loosen up for you soon.