I'm not the kind of guy who would rather sit around than do something. Well, that's a sweeping statement that isn't entirely true. Sometime between 4 and 7 p.m. every day, I power down my PC, climb the steps to my living room and crank back in my recliner for an evening's TV watching. Even that statement isn't completely true. Two or three afternoons a week my PC is dark by lunch time as I redirect my efforts to tackle a house project. But you get the point: I do sit around most evenings – if not at home, then entertaining a bartender somewhere.
This past week was alarmingly quiet, disconcerting even, in regard to paying work. Planning on being in Portland, Maine with Dodge for the Challenger GT media event for the first three days at the week's front end, I had budgeted my work to have those days free. Weather of some sort had Delta canceling my original flight out of Greenville-Spartanburg to Laguardia and then my backup flight was canceled, as well. The best Delta could muster were backup, backup flights that wouldn't have gotten me to my destination until mid afternoon on Tuesday. Because that was the driving day for the event, there wasn't much sense in going.
Suddenly I found myself at home with three open days. It was, until I considered the impact on my earnings or lack thereof, glorious. I basically did nothing but go to the gym on Monday and Tuesday. At the request of my Autotrader editor on Monday, I did write a short news piece and submitted it. That took me all of 30 minutes. Otherwise, all was quiet on the Greenville front.
By Wednesday, though, I was boring myself and had to do something productive. I wrote a car review of the Chevy Cruze Hatchback in the morning (You can find it here.), and installed the final few pieces of baseboard in the upstairs bathroom in the afternoon. I had been holding off on the baseboard chore because it meant hauling my power miter saw from the shed to the carport and working outside. Most of last week featured Chamber of Commerce weather. With the sun shinning and temps in the mid 70s, I had no reason not to drag out the miter saw. Nearly three hours and sixteen cuts later, I had installed the less than six feet of remaining baseboard. Oh, I suddenly remembered why I had been putting off that project: 16 flipping cuts!
Thursday I decided to edit one of the half dozen or so unedited just3things videos I have stacked up. Once every two or three months when I spool up my Corel Videostudio editing program, I get a message to download a new update to the X9 Ultimate version I use. I always click on the “download” icon, wait for 15 seconds for the download to do its thing and then push on with my editing project without incident. Not so this time. The download seemed to complete and I began work on a video. With the second or third edit, the program froze and then closed itself. This repeated for another three or four attempts. Most of my Thursday was spent trying to overcome the glitch. I finally gave up, and shut down my PC.
On Friday, I did everything I could think of to get Corel working. I even went back and reset my PC to the day before I downloaded the update. Nothing worked. I finally decided to uninstall and then reinstall X9. I found my Corel license agreement with my number, logged on to Corel and found, to my horror, that there doesn't seem to be any path to reinstall the program. Contacting Corel customer service about the issue, I'm still waiting for a reply. Fingers crossed that they reach out on Monday.
Traditionally Saturdays are my do-nothing-without-remorse day. Some Saturdays, I don't even power up my PC. I go to the gym, lounge around, watch a movie or two in the afternoon and think about dinner. (Wow, maybe I sit around more than I think.) This past Saturday, however, I planned on doing some long-overdue cleaning/rearranging in my work area.
I was in and out of the gym by 9:30 a.m. Checking my phone for e-mails before leaving the gym parking lot, I was surprised by a reminder that the deadline for an Autotrader story was on Monday at 10 a.m. What story? Autotrader uses a third-party outfit to receive and accept story proposals, as well as receive the story once finished. This entity notifies me when Autotrader has accepted a proposal and alerts me to the deadline. Then, two days before the deadline, it sends a reminder. I received the reminder that morning, but had never seen the original notice of acceptance. Scrolling back a week, I couldn't locate the assignment-accepted e-mail. For whatever reason, the original acceptance notification never came. Spilled milk. I suddenly had an assignment due on Monday morning.
Rather than beginning my office clean-up project when I returned home, I used the two hours remaining before lunch to knock out and submit the story. I didn't actually begin working on the office until about 2:00.
|I pity the sanitation worker tasked with dragging this thing full of books out to the truck.|
As with every home project I undertake, my office clean up exceeded the time I had budgeted for it. I had three bookcases in my office crammed with books, press kits, office supplies and other assorted flotsam accumulated over the past five or six years since my last big clean up. Feeling like Cinderella as I carted armload after armload of junk up the stairs and out to my garbage can, all I could think about was hunkering down in my recliner with a movie and a glass of wine.
The biggest part of the chore was moving one of the bookcases out of my work space up to the upstairs spare bedroom. As part of that project, I decided to move the remaining two bookcases to different locations in my office. It meant unloading all three bookcases. Not only do I now have roughly 70 novels that look like they just came out of the Amazon box stacked up on the floor, I carted shelves of crap out to my garbage can. The books must go, but I can't bring myself to just pitch, what must be, $1,500-$2,000 in books. Next week I'll reach out to the library and see if I can donate them.
I did toss all manner of car-related books, manuals, press kits and so forth that I hadn't used in years. I wish I lived closer to some of my auto-journalist peers because I'm sure someone would have taken a lot of this stuff off my hands. I'm not a saver nor a hoarder. I have little sentimentality for things I don't use. But even I felt a little guilty about a few of the items I pitched. My thinking: Either I toss this stuff now or some poor, unsuspecting family member tosses it after I shuffle off this rock.
I worked until around 6:30 and still have a few hours of work to finish up. But the garbage can was filled to the brim – no doubt whichever sanitation worker attempts to wheel this can out to the truck will be flirting with a workman's comp claim – and must weigh 200 pounds. I'm going to struggle to pull it up the driveway to the street for pickup on Monday.
So, in a week in which I had little real work to do, I did manage to occupy myself. I always do.