Posts Tagged ‘work’

Wait, wait… Hold on… It’s July?? How did that happen? I swear it was just May. Where have I been?

You’re right. Where the hell have I been lately?

May and June passed in a blur of me riding on airplanes, commuting in cars, summoning Ubers, and bouncing around the country. Mostly, it was for the day job, but some personal travel converged in there. My schedule these past two months completely embodied the saying, “when it rains, it pours.”

Join me on a tour of my sprint into summer.

It all started with a Mother’s Day trip to Breckenridge. It was supposed to be an easy and relaxing family weekend but instead included mostly strep throat for me and ear infections for my babies. Not the strongest start to a whirlwind. I began my marathon already weakened and limping along.

Later in May, I was supposed to go to Washington DC for project meetings. Instead, over Memorial Day weekend, I rushed to Minnesota. My aunt passed rather unexpectedly, and I needed to be with my family. The trip was necessary but very emotionally intense. As it should have been. The weekend shook me, deeply, and put me very much off balance. Again, as it should have.

After Minnesota, it was back to life and back to work. This meant traveling across the country to San Diego.

The trip was somewhat intimidating for me, a step I needed to succeed at to prove myself in this role. While leading my first solo analysis workshop for the day job, I stayed near the beach and ran to it every day. My body and my hip might not have been ready for six straight days of running, but my mind relished it. The company I worked with was a pleasure, and my time outside of the office was euphoric. Even under June gloom. I never liked the sun anyway.

From the West Coast, I skimmed through home then over to the East Coast, to Boston for LiveWorx.

Conferences are a different beast than customer and project meetings. While customer sites are more demanding individually, conferences are overstimulating. It’s a blur of events and social events. I attended sessions at the conference and hung out at the company kiosk. Several of the sessions I attended were very interesting, including augmented reality training from a neuroscience perspective and the future of mobility as a service.

I love visiting Boston. I fell in love with it when my younger sister lived there and we would visit her. Despite the long hours at the conference and sneaking work in before/during/after, I wore myself down running early and drinking late (especially the night of the Stanley Cup). I woke insanely early to run to/from a barre class. I walked miles to one of my favorite Ethiopian restaurants and along the water. It was all worth it, but my body was pretty depleted from the preceding weeks.

I left Boston a shell of a person, physically and mentally wasted. Thankfully, I had a couple days back in mountain time before flying back out to Washington DC. I needed my family, time with babies to reset. I needed to do laundry and sleep in my own bed. Then it was out to the capital.

The project meetings may have been painful in DC, but I had good company (who I would happily hangout with at any time) and was able to squeeze in some quick sight seeing. Sometimes, working in the A&D contracting world can be a bit soul crushing. It was necessary to balance that out with some non-work time. Plus, it seems like a crime to visit DC without ever seeing any of the many sights there.

We also had a social event at Artechouse. I love art. I worked at an art gallery for work study through college, with a boss who was particularly influential in my life prior to his suicide. And I live in tech. Usually, in my life, these two things are at odds, segregated in my day. I found the combination quite fascinating and very entertaining. I lay on a marshmallow-like pillow, watching visual data flow over the walls. I drank a cocktail with an augmented reality coaster. I almost walked into the mirrored walls of the data tunnel. I would have gone, even if it wasn’t work-related.

I made it home from DC long enough to pack a bag and load up the car to go camping with the commune. I don’t think I even unzipped my suitcase from DC. I kissed my babies before they went to their grandmother’s. The mountains were calling, and I had to go. The air may have been extra thin, and caterpillars may have assaulted us from the pine branches all weekend, but altitude is just what I needed to come back home.

I was supposed to be home over the holiday and to celebrate a couple family birthdays before jumping on a plane to Austin for another big project meeting. BUT today that travel got cancelled. The timing could not have been more perfect. Personally, I need some time to catch up; I need some time with my family. Professionally, I also need some time to catch up, since working on the road just means only working 24/7.

I love my day job. I am finally coming into the full role and enjoy how it challenges me. It makes me work to prove that I can handle it (some days, I question if I can). I also like the travel. In moderation. One or two trips a month strikes the perfect balance between being a work-from-home mom and being a real professional. This run, however, definitely tested my threshold. Too many project timelines aligned, and personal drama layered on top of it.

Now, the real question: “Have you been writing?

…um

…well,

nope.

Things have been so crazy, personally and professionally, that I haven’t had the time or the mental capacity to do it. All things (novel, short stories, this blog) have sat idly by as I napped or wrote statements of work on the plane. I have finally discovered the line where I just can’t, where I actually need a mental break. That is new territory for me.

I don’t know how much I like it.

No routine and no writing means no balance for me, and it is wearing on me. However, now I have a week back to regain my composure and return to my novel. It has been a rollercoaster, fun and exhausting. Now, a little normalcy will be good.

Where am I now? Home, on a keyboard, writing.

 

Christina Bergling

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I keep myself pathologically busy in my life. My life would be full enough with my day job and my fledgling as a published author and my husband and our two young children. I am infamous for multitasking, always doing at least three things at once. Yet, to all this, I continually add. I plan and do more. Some might consider it an addiction or even a sickness, to cram some sort of activity or task into nearly every waking second of my time. My friends, who so justifiably enjoy their leisure time on their couches, will ask me when I appear drained with bagged under my eyes, “Why? Why do you stay so busy?”

The answer is deeper than mere compulsion. There is a philosophy, a way of life behind why I keep myself (and subsequently my entire family) so exhausting engaged, entertained, and active. Ultimately, the life choice comes down to two formative times in my past.

First, in and after college, I squandered my youth. The saying goes: “Youth is wasted on the young.” That sentiment was especially true for me. I spent these youthful and formative years lost in the defect in my brain. I let depression infect this time and prevent me from doing and experiencing so much more.

I spent my youth consumed by my own pain, indulging in every self-destructive behavior I could devise. I tortured myself. I was drunk and fat and unhappy. This decade later, I can only think of all the ways I could have better exploited that time, all the things I could have done and experienced before life’s obligations wrapped around me, restrained me.

Yes, I learned from this chapter in my life. No, given the choice I would not change it because I would not want to alter the result. However, that foolishness lingers at the edge of my memories like a nagging regret.

Then, shortly after the wasted self-destructive period in my life waned, I went to Iraq as a civilian contractor. I was still quite youthful and naive, but, at the very least, I was somewhat disentangled from the darkness in my own head. Just in time for my time in a war zone to crack my entire head open (figuratively) and give me an entirely new and life-altering perspective on life.

Iraq worked on me from several different angles. Prior, from the cushion and comfort of my American life, I told myself that I knew that other people lived differently; I told myself that watching and reading about it made me aware. I had no idea, and, more importantly, I know now that I still do not.

In Iraq, in a war zone, I was exposed to how people in that country were living, what they were doing to each other, what they were surviving.  More directly, I got see and even share a bit of how a deployed soldier had to live. I was fortunate enough to be a young civilian girl who they kept behind the wire and usually on the larger bases. However, I got just the slightest taste of the distance, the withdrawals from home, the isolation.

In both cases, I learned to appreciate how I lived at home and also see it through a new lens.

But it was the nature of a war zone itself that influenced my philosophy. It is true anywhere that we could die at any moment. However, that seems much more apparent and likely in a place where sirens are going off for rocket attacks and there is a daily wounded/abducted/killed tally. All of these new and morbid realities were terrifying on my sheltered psyche. I may have loved horror my entire life, but I loved horror in media, not in my real life.

Both of these experiences seemed to be translated and processed by my brain the same way, resulting in my near biological need to keep myself obsessively busy. The two compounded one another, evolved upon the preceding lesson. Both of them boil down to: do not waste time. Whether it be that you will be young once before it is gone or that you could die at any moment for a myriad of reasons, do not waste the time.

So I pack the time. I cram it and stretch it and exploit it. I do not think that I will want to do something some day because it has been so deeply branded into my brain that I am not guaranteed some day. I do not want to spend my last breath thinking I should have gotten out more or traveled more or seen more or done more. I do not want to be rested and bored. I can rest if I make it to a retirement home; I can sleep on my death bed.

Instead, I strive to channel Thoreau and Dead Poets’ Society; I endeavor to suck all the marrow out of life.

So yes, I work a demanding full time day job to support my family and finance all our adventures and hobbies. Yes, I write and publish at every single chance I get; I try to pour my soul out on the page. And I try to get those books out for people to read. Yes, I travel at every opportunity, personally and professionally. Yes, I run and workout and take zumba classes and barre classes and do races and hike. Yes, I set up endless playdates for my children and get them into dance and any other activity they want. Yes, I fill up our evenings and weekends with dinners and projects and trips.

Before the dementia sinks in, I want the corners of my wrinkled, aged mind to be free, uncluttered with any regrets and only teeming with more memories than I can hold onto.

I live. I live as hard as I possibly can.

(And this long winded babble may or may not be an attempt at rationalizing why this blog has been so neglected.)

*

In my book, Savages, I explore what time in Iraq would mean to a person as they try to survive the apocalypse. In my second book, coming later this year, I paint a picture of woman caged by regret for a life wasted on career.

http://christinabergling.com