01 January 2006

Normal time standard

The best part about it being New Year's Day, besides being one of a handful of people on the planet not hungover today, is that we can all go back to normal now. Thank god, the holidays are now, finally, behind us.

That whole glut of Special Occasions from October through December is entirely too much. It's just way too overwhelming, and I don't know who ever thought that was a good idea. Everybody's walking around excusing their bad behavior by announcing the usually arbitrarily determined day on the calendar... It's Christmas! Have some! It's New Year's! You should go out!

I don't want to sound like a grump, because I just really like normal time. Everyday life is just fine by me. It helps that I like winter, too, and don't need the frenetic distraction of heavy-handedly-enforced "cheer" to get me in a good mood about it. I think part of it, too, is my unease with Compulsory Activities that Everyone takes part in Simultaneously. Like those Brits with their Bank Holidays. In what possible way could it make sense for an entire country to take their vacation at the same time?

It's nice that everyone will now spend the next few days swearing off the very activities that were mandatory only last month, like eating too much, drinking too much, and spending too much money. Solemn vows will be made, lists will be written, gym memberships paid for. We know we won't stick to these promises, but we make them anyway. It's all part of the cycle of life, and it's OK. I think we're all kind of cute, in our earnest little ways.

I'm all for self-improvement. I feel that I have made great strides this past year, in fact, so much so that I wonder if I shouldn't just give myself this year off and concentrate on all the new stuff last year brought about. I don't talk a lot here about the sweeping changes this calendar year has seen, but the astute reader might notice that there are some things I specifically don't do anymore. This is not by accident, nor should it be held lightly.

I'm going to turn 35 this year, and I'm starting my first real office job with a salary in a couple of days. I have successfully held out against the nine to five world for longer than most people manage to, and my bank balance shows it. I've squandered my life savings -- twice -- in efforts to be my own boss, both of which were marginally fruitful endeavors, especially in the learning experience gleaned thereof. I could write a particularly enlightening book, say, on how not to run a nightclub. Not as well as those guys in Rhode Island, but still.

In exchange for sleeping in until damn near noon many days and rarely changing out of my most comfortable ensemble de fleece, I am now going to get a regular, sizable paycheck and paid vacation time. I am still trying to grok this whole concept of getting paid for days that I don't work, but I am sure that will come with time.

It is going to be such a change, such an entirely different way of life, it feels like I am going to live abroad, in some reasonably familiar, yet utterly alien country -- someplace in Europe, where they speak a nice, friendly romance language, but not one I studied in school. Full Immersion in Office Culture! We will eat nutella and powerfully strong coffee for breakfast! And ride ancient bikes everywhere! Old men will whistle at me in the streets because of my bare shoulders and uncovered hair! I will suddenly take to wearing scarves!

I will suddenly be able to afford scarves!

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