Illustration by HarriorriharBonnaroo was like a great, big pause. It's a dip out of civilization, society, constant internet connection -- especially if you're with Sprint -- and just living for what's in front of you. I needed it. My mind was a carousel of repetative, worried thoughts; about my career momentum, my clients, my interpersonal relationships, my social life, my health and mortality. On that last one, I had been spending a lot of time diagnosing myself with everything from GERD to sleep apnea to Marfan's syndrome. That sounds ridiculous to read now that I've typed it out.

Those 5 days off were a break. In the same way you disconnect your wi-fi to really concentrate on your term paper, this was a disconnect from my dull, numbing anxieties. I missed out on all but a few quarters of the NBA Finals, and on Saturday I asked the crowd if anyone knew who won. "Are the Spurs champions? Are the Spurs champions right now and we don't even know it? Did Tim Duncan retire?" A day later I would joke that the world outside of this 700 acre farm could have ended and we wouldn't know about it. We could drive to the airport and find that civilization had broken down days ago. It was an insular world, a fever dream, a psychadelic trip. Having flown in in the morning I had a whole day to recover, and I took advantage of it with a 17 hour sleep. 

But now I'm back at work -- and how! Once back in the fold of work, I slid back in with more ease than I expected. After the initial fear of tackling a pile of unread e-mails, it was back to writing cases, filling out government forms, corresponding with clients and grinding out everything in-between.

There was a bit of dumb, unfortunate serendipity. Something like 5 clients got their stuff together at the same time and, consequently, all had the same urgent deadline. A bad time for a vacation. The result is that I'm working a lot -- 10 hour days, Saturdays from home, Sundays in the office. I stayed until 11 PM once just because the work necessitated it. There's no overtime incentive, there's just the necessity. It is physically impossible to get this many people through the system on a 40 hour work week.

Somehow I'm not bitter, which is new. Working retail, everyone had an internal conflict about getting more hours. We wanted the hours for the money, but we loathed every extra second we had to stay there. At my previous desk job, overtime was paid, but it was the most numbing, tedious work possible. I took on weekend overtime with tremendous sighs that rattled windows.

This is different. I think because it feels like an actual respectable job with all the amenities -- comfortable chairs, fancy computers, top floor of a tall building -- that makes grinding out the work feel like something worthwhile. It is the least bullshit thing I've ever done. Sure, this is a trick designed by corporations to make our ant-like existence more palatable, but it works when the shine is still there. Secondly, what I do feels of actual import; lives are changed when I succeed, and if a client proves to be particularly appealing, I feel more compelled to pull out all the stops. I'm an empathic sucker sometimes, yes, but it's also self-serving. I like to help people out of my own ego, out of a need to feel useful. Working into the late hours is a pure power trip.

Then there's the big project feel of it all. I have a tendency to find my limits by biting off more than I can chew, by taking on tons of responsibility. When I was working on PCN, to my knowledge, I took on more responsibility than any of my predecessors had. This is a similar thing; controlling all aspects of a Big Thing and having it reflect 1:1 your work ethic, intelligence and abilities. If it succeeds, its validation. I like working on something that is representative of my talents, wholly and completely.

So I'll be at work for the next week or so, pretty much non-stop, pushing beyond reasonable work hours. Coping is easy. I go home and dive into extremely low resistance entertainment. Netflix series that are all style and little substance (that's why I haven't watched any of the new ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK yet), or old favorite video games that I've completed a hundred times like MASS EFFECT. The goal is escapism, decompression and transition. It's no 5 day excursion to Tennessee, but I don't want to be away for that long when there's things to get done.