Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rugged terrain

Upon leaving for the day my boss says to me, "It gets kind of rugged, sitting there, doesn't it?"

Me: "Yes, it is a lot of sitting."

Boss: "Well, see you tomorrow."

Me: "Have a good night."

Rugged is an interesting word choice.  He has never referred to the unique agony of this atmosphere before.  I wonder what he thinks of me sitting here, and how he feels about his sitting.  In enormous contrast to the teeming university hallways outside our little block of offices, we might as well be one of those silent nun convents.  (No wonder I'm surprised when students hold the door for me - see post below.)  For almost the whole day, we are silent, in an otherwise silent office, in office-rooms next to each other, each with open doors. 

He is thirty years older than me.  We can hear each other typing.  I worry over whether he can hear me chew when I eat at my desk, and whether that sound might disgust him.  Sometimes he plays music softly, and sometimes I do.

My assignments are solitary, for the most part -- there is little opportunity for collaboration, and little reason to talk.  I am saying this as a pretty chatty person who has little trouble making small talk -- there's not much to talk about between the two of us. 

The quiet is unbelievable.  It's worse than whatever you think.  Mixed with the sedentary immobility, it's a recipe for depression.  Humans are not built for this.  This lifestyle calls me to be a not-yet-invented cyborg creature.  It's "rugged" in a way that, honestly, makes it hard to concentrate and get work done.  I feel my ability to be productive unraveling.  My knee hurts.  I contemplate sugar and caffeine.  I envy my husband's endless meetings and scurrying about like a squirrel, his exasperation at the stress of it all, of being needed.  I cling to life rafts in the Internet.  You're reading one of them.

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