Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pick up and go

This summer has been stressful at work again. Sometimes I feel like I'm turning into one of those people who has stress at work all the time but always talks as if it's an unusual thing, because I'm currently having my third bout of work-stress in a row. Last summer there was the crushing pressure of a huge project that was going bad, and probably the worst round of stress I've ever been through. Over the winter there was another round that was a sort of "aftershock" from that, a bunch of legal wrangling over settling some obscure points of a contract. This summer has been mostly about the increasing pressures that come from us having more duties, a lot more bureaucratic and accountability overhead, and fewer resources than ever -- including a 20% reduction in personnel covering the increasing workload, and pay cuts.

There's lots of stress-busters, but most of them are either unattainable or things that come when they choose to come, not when I choose to have them. One of the few things that's a big boost of destressing but that I can cause to happen is a visit to the seashore on a sunny day. I don't know why, but it does. Even better if it's a warm day. Last summer we spent a weekend in Ogunquit just as the crush of that summer stress-party was peaking, and it made a big difference. Our trip to San Diego included a little time on a beach, which helped defuse the stress from that legal tussle.

At one point it looked like we were going to get to spend a couple of hours on the beach while in England, but we had so much we were doing in England that it didn't seem like a big deal, and then when it fell through it didn't seem worth making a fuss about. And I could certainly get through without another visit. I've gone two, three years in between trips to the sea before, admittedly in less stressed times, but even so, I can go a half-year.

But I was also thinking recently about how the drive to the shore from here is about three hours, which is comparable to the drive we made to the disappointing Rush concert, and we did that as a day trip. So there's no compelling reason why it'd be impossible to make a day trip to the shore. Then again, if you're going to spend six hours on the road, it seems like it'd make sense to have more than two hours there, so an overnight's still more compelling.

With us already planning to go some weekend to FunSpot NH to visit the world's largest arcade, I thought it might make sense to extend that trip to a visit to the seashore. However, I never got farther than thinking that it might be nice to watch for a good weekend with good weather, because the appeal of the seashore depends so much on the weather. (Yes, a rainy day on the seashore is lovely and destressing, but if that's the only time you get to spend on the seashore, it's not nearly so nice as having that and the nice weather after it. Plus getting there is messy and cold.) So I didn't want to plan it too much, just pick up and go. This weekend seemed possibly ideal, because it's not just a three-day weekend, but the third day is only a holiday for Vermont; so we won't be fighting holiday crowds. Plus summer's rapidly running out.

Only when I brought the idea up, it became clear that we can no longer just "pick and up go" even for an overnight. A long day trip would work, but even a single overnight becomes more of a planned thing just because we either bring the dog -- thus limiting our motel and entertainment options considerably, and likely making the whole trip more about her than anything else -- or we need to board her. She can't be left alone for an overnight trip's duration.

Fortunately, we can board her on short notice and for a reasonable cost. We just have to plan our timing a little more than "pick up and go" suggests. But we are looking quite likely to hit the road Sunday morning for a day on the shore, visiting beaches, restaurants, shopping, and anything else we feel like; an overnight somewhere cheap; and Monday at FunSpot. Hopefully I'll come back refreshed, destressed, and relaxed. (At least as much as a two-days-one-night can do.)

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