30 days of cozy: vacation planning

I’m supposed to be on vacation right now.

Eight weeks ago I asked off for November 2 – 6 and planned a lovely solo trip to Boulder. But then some tragic personal circumstances occurred (the dozenth time this year) and I cancelled. I forced myself to take two days off at the time to emotionally recover, but failed to replan a new vacation.

So, tonight my cozy goal was to take at least a basic step towards that new trip. I haven’t had a pure, solo vacation since about this time last year; setting the tragedy aside, I am due. Vacations are important to me because I put in a lot of hours at work and several volunteer commitments. When I’m off work, I vanish.

But, it’s hard. I come up with so many reasons to delay. I hem over the timing and how it might possibly effect my team: should I go at the start of the sprint or more towards the middle? I haw over the money: can I truly afford to go, or will I put a good portion of the trip on credit? I dwell on a detail: should I leave from Atlanta or Nashville?

I delayed. I did all sorts of boring things, including cleaning my desktop and balancing my checkbook. Rock bottom for reluctance.

Eventually I came around  and searched for flights. This required picking a date and a destination. Two things down: December. Atlanta, to Austin, Texas.

What of the price? Oh, for those dates? Not bad at all, and even better using miles.

I looked at some photos I took the last time I was there and thought about how peaceful and happy I was. I rented a car and spent several days driving hours in all four directions to different state parks. At Pedernales I stretched out on the moonrocks and listened to the water. At Guadalupe River I stayed so late I got spooked by shadows.

Down the path to Pedernales Falls State Park, Johnson City TX

Pedernales Falls State Park, Johnson City, Texas

Guadalupe River State Park, near San Antonio, Texas

my dear, beloved birds, the Grackles

Saigon Le Vendeur #vegan creamy curry ramen with fat fried tofu, grilled eggplant, crispy onions, and more

I’m a little closer to booking the trip.



30 days of cozy: second report

This morning I made the choice to work from home, a choice I struggled with.

For several years I worked under leadership that was unambiguously suspicious of remote work. At one job, it was only permitted during severe weather (the kind that shuts down schools). At another, our director was so unsettled by the org’s move towards flexible work arrangements that they brought in a professional mediator for the roll-out.

Now I work for a cheery little company that accepts remote work without stigma, and for a supportive manager/CTO who doesn’t think twice about it.

I still feel a little guilt when I work from home, though. I feel like I have to “earn” the right to stay here, paid with some misfortune: illness, utility work, a car that suddenly won’t start.

And to string a couple of WFH days together? What: take Tuesday and Wednesday? Push me even further into the Discomfort Zone!

It’s not that I’m “taking” these days at all—I’m very effective and highly available, and occasionally work more hours than I would otherwise. But something just doesn’t feel right.

It doesn’t help that when I work from home in Nashville, I go downstairs to our community’s common area overlooking a glistening pool. “How is tapping on a $3000 computer in these surroundings work?!” my brain hisses, the same born/e of a Bobcat-operating, ditch-digging landscaper mother and a welder father whose heavy, ocher-caked denim uniforms wore out washing machines well before their time.

This preposterous view

This morning I took a deep breath and posted in the channel: “WFH today”.

Simple, without apology: just my plan. When my boss messaged me, I reflexively jumped to explain myself, but all he wanted to do was say good morning and share his priorities. You know, totally normal stuff for a CTO to bring up with his Director of Engineering, nothing to do with location. I took another deep breath, we talked, and my morning spun on, from leading standup at 9am to a brief finances talk, a feedback meeting with my CEO, and several hours spent writing a proposal for a new engineering support process.

It was absolutely fine, of course, and it turned out to be great for this month’s cozy theme. Remote work today made it easier for me to relax at lunchtime–and to take a real lunch. I read and made a big cup of tea with the good stuff my friend just brought back from Málaga. I marvel at the fact that I forgot to make my usual strong cafe au lait, but somehow, I didn’t get a headache. Hmmmm!

This evening, I had my comfort food classic: grits with jalapenos. Eating this is like getting a hug from food. I washed my sheets and am getting ready for bed early so I can make it to a 7am breakfast with some fellow engineering managers. Enough sleep? What a treat! Cozy November–you’re off to a great start.