Wednesday, March 30, 2011

All Ahead Slow

Today I'm riding the train, roughly halfway between the frenzy of cranking out 2010 tax returns for my community and the eight individuals who live there (trying to stuff four days of work into a three-day sack), and the spaciousness of a week of R&R with my kids in Las Vegas.

It's amusing to reflect on my topsy turvy life: hectic in rural Missouri during the slow time of the agricultural calendar (midway between maple syrup and spring planting), juxtaposed with down time in Glitzville USA. Go figure.

One of the weirdest parts of my life is how the pace can change so abruptly. Even though April 15 is more than a fortnight away, I won't be home again until April 29 and I was under pressure to whelp a 1065 and a whole litter of 1040s before boarding the choo choo west.

Matters were unexpectedly complicated by a balky printer—it'll handle Word documents without a pause, but is extremely hesitant with PDFs (Probably Defective Formats, I figure)—which slowed progress on my last day down to a crawl, as I attempted to pump out custom-filled schedules left and right.

After hours of playing Beat the Clock, I finally pulled the plug on taxes to spend my final 30 minutes indulging in a quick shower and throwing clothes into my suitcase. I then drove over to Dancing Rabbit to pick up Ma'ikwe so that she could drive the car home after dropping me off in La Plata (about 45 miles from home, and the nearest Amtrak stop). Once she was in the car I started to relax. It helped to just go through the ritual of listening to what we'd each been doing the 30 hours since we'd last seen each other.

We got to the station about 10 minutes early, affording us a few moments of marital bliss, in this case jointly munching chips and salsa, before the whistle of the approaching Southwest Chief rousted us out of the car. As I boarded, the knots in my shoulders finally started to soften.

It's now morning in southeastern Colorado, and the snow-capped outliers of the Rockies are within sight as we rumble toward the Raton Pass. I've had a leisurely breakfast in the dining car, and have spent an hour digging out impacted emails (a necessary periodic practice, roughly analogous to visiting the dentist, though on a shorter cycle). I have a week to get my networking teeth cleaned and bridge work done, interspersed with a heavy (and joyous) dance card with my kids. Then it's off to Portland, where I'll be back to full speed: in 10 days I'll work with three clients and participate in a networking evening with area communities.

As much as I enjoy the rush of working with groups—and I do—it wouldn't be sustainable without the protected time to exhale, to read a book, or just stare out the window. I don't know what I'll do if they ever succeed in making the trains run faster.

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