This diary isn’t the only routine I’m off of. No packing and no exercise the last couple of days, just work, thinking about work, thinking about packing, trying not to think about exercising, trying not to think about this diary. The craziness and pressures of what’s going on were starting to weigh on me, and I guess I just needed a break. Plus there’s this freelance project I’ve got to try to squeeze in sometime before noon on Sunday, when I’ll need to present my findings to the client, in person. All of my obligations start to feel overwhelming at points like this, but I just keep telling myself that the picture will look very different after this weekend, when I’ll be free of non-move-related obligations and can refocus for the final stretch.
The house will look very different after this weekend, too, as that’s when the plumbers are coming to work on this bathroom hot-water situation and will likely damage at least the dining room ceiling and possibly the dining room wall in the process. I’ve finally nailed down the bathroom contractor who will be replacing the tub surround: he says he’ll do the work next Wednesday. It will be a relief to have that work done, as that will be the last performed by outsiders. Then I can just work on the few small jobs on my list and do the touch-up painting necessary to pass the lead inspection.
Speaking of working too much, and I believe we were, I spent part of Independence Day at work, trying to catch up on the second of those two projects I’ve mentioned that involve so much work in Filemaker databases. In the late afternoon, I walked to a friend’s house in Remington, where a holiday BBQ was scheduled. This is a somewhat distant acquaintance I’ve known since Living Classroom days, when he was the facilities manager on the organization’s waterfront campus. (He says he was the “groundskeeper Willie” of the campus.) He’s since left and now works as a contractor; his soon-to-be wife is in public health at Johns Hopkins. It always takes me a second to realize that I, too, am essentially in public health myself, but once I did, we all had plenty to talk about. Plus another two guests at the party were biologists and one of them had done field work similar to what A. is doing, so the conversation just rolled right along.
With work the next day, I wanted to get to bed early and left the party around eight thirty. It didn’t start raining until I was almost home; before that, there was a cool, damp breeze as I walked through the empty streets, the sound of amateur fireworks rolling in from near and far across the city, Baltimore, a city that bears up well under gray skies and gets a positive twinkle in her eye when the sea winds come in off of the bay. I sat up for a little while watching television once I was home. In between downbursts, the neighborhood guys were setting off some pretty major-sounding fireworks of their own, including bottle rockets (or whatever you call the kind of fireworks that actually shoots up into the air). I was glad for the rain, because who knows where some of these burning fragments were landing. I’ve heard of some Baltimore homeowners needing to stay up on their roofs all night with a garden hose, although thankfully the neighborhood efforts didn’t seem that high powered.
At work on Thursday I plugged along with my Filemaker adventures. We also recently switched to OS X at work (yes, you read that right: we switched this week to the operating system that Apple first introduced in 2001 – up until which point all I can say is It’s Been An Adventure), and I’m literally the only person in the building with any experience using it, so I’ve been the stand-in tech support guy as everyone tries to figure out how to check their mail and what that bouncing thing is down at the bottom of the screen. Official company policy is to hate OS X (insert grumpy Scottish voice muttering about how OS 9 “was God’s own operating system” and ranting against the “frou-frou gewgaws” of the OS X display), but everyone seems to be enjoying using computers that actually work, features of the operating system aside. We could all agree that we don’t care for the “genie effect” when you minimize programs (which effect you can just turn off, by the way), for the sake of argument, but the real point is that these computers actually show you web pages the way they are supposed to look and, when you try to download a PDF, it simply happens, immediately. Before, you had to stare at your blank screen for five minutes wondering if it was working or frozen up. So initial reviews are good.
As I worked, more fireworks were going off in the ruined blocks south of Calvert.
In the evening, an evening in which I consciously Accomplished Nothing, I turned on the TV for a little while but couldn’t settle on anything. The choices were Big Brother 8, where contestants were sitting on some sort of spinning mushroom-shaped structures, apparently trying not to vomit, although they were coated in some unpleasant-looking substance, so maybe they already had; Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, where the children seem to be at pains not to make the adults feel bad about themselves, and sort of cavort and dance with a well-trained expression of delight on their faces whether they get a question right or not (they certainly don’t seem allowed to think of themselves as Smarter Than a Grownup, although clearly some of them are); and… Actually, I forget what else was on.
I went to bed and drifted off to the sound of explosions.