Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Life of a Road Warrior: I want my own bed.

"Every night my dream's the same / Same old city with a different name / Men are coming to take me away / I don't know why but I know I can't stay" -- Arcade Fire, Keep the Car Running*

One of the things I most enjoy about my job is the travel. One of the things I sometime least enjoy about my job is the travel.

"Oh, you get paid to travel, that sounds fantastic!" is a common response... and honestly 90% of the time I really do enjoy it, but when you look at itineraries like what I'm in the middle of right now...

Monday, February 14th: Drive to Ann Arbor, stop at Ikea along the way. At least the weather is decent.

Tuesday, February 15-Thursday, February 17th: Working in Ann Arbor, staying upbeat in front of my client and their clients while fighting off a cold. Typically the symptoms follow my visit to Ann Arbor (and no it's not -- at least consciously -- an OSU v. Michigan thing); this time it seems I've brought it with me.

Friday, February 18th: Tie up a few quick loose ends, hit the road back to Cleveland. I get home early afternoon and spend the rest of the workday catching up on emails that require more time than I had to spare over the previous week.

Saturday-Sunday: Home!

This Monday (Yesterday): Work from home, take care of a few appointments, do a happy hour. Then drive to Columbus. Oh. My. God. In 5 years of living in Cleveland I can't ever remember the freeways being this lousy, especially south of the Turnpike...usually even if things are lousy in Cleveland they get tolerable south of I-80. I see four cars wobble then disappear into a ditch at various points along the way. My entire drive was a never-ending close call with some particularly close calls.

After 4 hours on behind the wheel -- which felt like weeks -- I make it to my hotel on the North side of Columbus. "Welcome, Mr. King-Cliby, we've been expecting you. We have your Diamond HHonors number on file..." a greeting that varies only on the pronunciation of my last name. The unexpected surprise "...and you've been upgraded to one of our Parlor Suites." I think this is actually the first time my top-tier HHonors status has actually earned me an upgrade. I get to my room and it is gigantic. I think a school bus could be parked in the bathroom with space to spare.

Today I spent 12 hours with my client walking that fine line between observing our scope of work to the letter and getting things done. This project has, ahem, evolved. And it's still evolving. I like problem solving but it frustrates me to tear up work that I've finished just to do something almost but not quite the same while under the scheduling gun. Hospitals make me uneasy; operating rooms make me queasy.

Tomorrow looks like it will be another 12 hour day.

Thursday I drive back to Cleveland, and spend the afternoon and Friday in the office -- the first time in nearly two weeks. I'm hitting the Cleveland Orchestra Thursday, instead of normal Saturday visit, because Saturday is PlayhouseSquare's Jump Back Ball (oh, crud, do I need to have my tux cleaned again?)

Sunday evening I fly to Minneapolis, then drive 90 minutes South to Rochester
Monday and Tuesday I'm in Rochester, MN
Wednesday I fly back from Rochester, drop off one suitcase and pick up another, and drive back to Ann Arbor.
Thursday and Friday I'm in Ann Arbor.
Friday or maybe Saturday I drive back from Ann Arbor.

And I can't get up the energy to look any further than next Friday on my calendar.

If you're counting, that makes for 1 1/2 days actually in my office in 3 weeks. Alternatively, that's 13 nights in 21 calendar days or 15 business days in hotels.

Though Columbus and Ann Arbor both rank pretty low on my "Cities I'm excited to visit" list, I think I'd feel a little bit better if I had time to actually explore the cities in daylight, but it feels like I'm missing so much on the performing arts front in Cleveland, of course not being able to practice my violin playing... and like I'm perpetually behind on the next project on my list.

I also wonder -- though I try pushing the thought out of my head -- if frequent travel is an obstacle in my pathetic romantic life... not just the "I don't have time for it" but if women see it as a negative, as in "flighty and unsettled".

Ok, so I've complained enough for one night.

*- This song from the album Neon Bible has been on my iPod for at least 4 years now... I only found out about Arcade Fire's Northeast Ohio roots after this year's Grammy Awards.

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