Thursday, November 17, 2005

Mental Commute

As another of the great philosophers of my father’s generation observed: "Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” When I first started this blog, I expected to chronicle my (mis)advenures in marathon running and my foray into the wilderness of book publishing.

I imagined I’d write a lot about sore knees and black toenails, Gu and Body Glide, PRs and negative splits, glycogen depletion and Max VO2 uptake. I figured I’d spend a good deal of time ranting about rejections, kvetching about the competitive nature of corporate publishing, and musing about the many ways your characters can tell their stories.

Then life happened and I moved half-way around the world to the home of Guinness, hurling, and urban cowboys. I began searching for a full-time job, learning the inner workings of the public transport system, and spelling colour with a "u". I find now that a possibly unhealthy number of my posts revolve around Dublin Bus and camogie. So, sorry if you’re sick of hearing about busses, hurleys, and sliotars, because today I’ve been thinking about my morning commute.

Waiting for my doctor’s appointment last week, I was reading a three year-old issue of Reader’s Digest (apparently, reading selection is the same no matter where in the world you doctor is) that had a section of work and life tips. One story was about how to mitigate the stress of working from home (that I could have such problems!) and it recommended commuting to your home office, even if it was just to walk your dog around the block. The idea is to get into the work mindset and to separate your work and home lives.

I have the most perfect commute in the mornings right now. At 30 minutes, it’s the right amount of time and the twists and turns of the journey allow me to prepare myself for my day.

When I get on the bus, I’m a bit fuzzy around the edges. Not sleepy, exactly, just unfocused. For a good part of the beginning of the trip, I space out. I let thoughts wash through my mind like the tide. I listen to music and just relax.

In Dún Laoghaire town centre, I start to pay attention to my surroundings. The store fronts are all dark and locked, except for one newsagents. Part of the road is cobbled and the ride is bumpy. The bus moves into the residential edges of Monkstown and we pass the apartments that my family rented when they visited for my wedding. Sometimes I remember my wedding day, other times I’m thinking about my current book or a problem I’m having.

We turn off the Monkstown Road and then take a right turn to sneak up on the village of Blackrock. We pass the house I’d love to buy, an end terrace with a great side yard. After passing through the middle of Blackrock, we take another right back onto the main road. From this point, it’s straight on into the city centre.

This is the mid-point of my journey and the start of my mental commute. This is where I accept the inevitably that I will arrive at work soon and will need to put in a full day.

My next landmark is the Elmpark development, where they are building some ridiculous tower block with allegedly fantastically appointed luxury apartments. It’s near a stretch where I can see Dublin Bay and it makes me think about trading the luxury of a backyard for sea views. (For me, the backyard wins every time.)

Elmpark reminds me that I’m about to trade my free time for paid time. I switch from music to news. I sit up straighter. I pay attention. I think about what I’m going to try to accomplish during my workday. St. Vincent’s Hospital, the Merrion Centre, and St. Michael’s College slide past the window.

When I see Bewley’s Hotel, I heave my butt out of the seat and make my way over to the staircase. Every morning, I think “Please, please, please, do not let me break my neck.”

Back on the terra firma of the ground floor, I look for my stop and ring the bell. I leave the bus with a cheery “thanks very much” to the driver. It’s about a two minute walk to my workplace. When I get to my building, my body is nearly at work but my mind is already at my computer, working on my To Do list.

When I get my desk, I’m ready to work and I don’t feel like I’ve wasted any time.


At 19 November 2005 at 00:30, Blogger Lex Fori said...

Gotta be honest. Camogie is way cooler to read about than marathons anyhow. But that may well be because I am convinced I could never run a marathon, but am all too capable of imagining the release that must come when one hits to hurt =)

How goes the job?

At 19 November 2005 at 07:46, Blogger -Ann said...

Job is good. Getting a paycheck is even better, even though that is unfortunately only a once in a month occurence.

My big fear, that the job would kill my fiction writing, hasn't happened and I think that's because of the commute. This summer, I had a 6 week contract that necessitated a 90 minute commute each way. I'd leave the house at 7 and get home at 7 (and the bus ride home was always full of obnoxious Spanish teenagers).

Hitting to hurt is fairly gratifying although I wish other people would stop hitting my damn knee. :)

At 20 November 2005 at 01:27, Blogger Career Guy said...

Waste time? Heaven forfend! Can't imagine where you got that time thing.

At 21 November 2005 at 11:28, Blogger Lyss said...

Body Glide sounds like cool stuff.
A half-hour commute is not bad. My just decreased by 35 miles with my move.

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