Over the past few weeks I’ve felt a bit like a metronome bouncing from one coast to the other and back again. I originally flew back home the day before Christmas Eve, which is the last possible day I could have arrived home since Christmas Eve is the day the polish side of the family celebrates. Leading up to to it I really didn’t have any desire to go home at all.
My holiday spirit was severely lacking this year, probably due in part to the high environmental contrast. As an example, at RPI I’d be surrounded by holiday decorations (even if I had to put them up myself last year) in the Student Government Suite, there would be ample holiday music to play, and since I was on the northeast it would be both cold and snowy (or at least appearing like it might snow). This year the extent of my holiday decorations included a 3? foot pre-lit tree in the corner of my apartment that I was too lazy to plug in most nights. At work I displayed my circuitry tree as well which impressed everyone, but that was about it. There was no holiday music except when my iTunes accidentally started playing the free Holiday Sampler they gave out a few years ago and the weather out here was no where close to feeling like winter. It actually was just starting to feel like fall, with brisk mornings and leaves coming down. But yes, I mustered up the energy required to fly home and spend some time with my family for the holidays.
My parents briefed me in advanced that I wouldn’t be getting much at all for Christmas, and I was OK with that because I really don’t need much stuff. It’s also a pain to travel with things, and I like to keep my apartment pretty void of stuff. Let me think, notable gifts family this year include sunglasses (expensive ones that I don’t need), a GPS (returned to store), a camera for my Google TV (which logitech / Google have failed to release drivers for :-(), and some pants. My brother got me a DNA testing kit thingy, which I look forward to reporting back on in a few years.
One of the things I dislike about the holidays is that things have broken down into lists. At least for me, people usually don’t like to risk being wrong so they avoid trying to guess what I might like / enjoy. While I can appreciate a logical and conservative gift-giving stance, it’s not as exciting to be the recipient because you’ve essentially written your own prescription for the pharmacist to fill and give right back to you. Personally, I’m also of the mindset that if I want / need something I’m just going to go out acquire it, so populating a list of things “I’d like to have but can’t” produces items that are nearly impossible to find (and often programming related, like modules of code).
On one of my flights back out to California, perhaps the one after my holidays at home, it occurred to me that perhaps one of the reasons I ended up out here taking the job that I did was to get away from everyone who cares about me and those I care about. That ended up being a pretty depressing plane ride while I pondered that, but I’m curious if on some subconscious level I was itching to get in an environment where I could more completely focus on work.
As an example, normal people my age would be doing something on a Friday night like watching TV, hanging out with other people, etc. Even if Friday isn’t your thing, there is some probability that over a weekend you’ll physically interact with someone classified as a “friend” in some way shape or form. I, on the other hand, will likely spend my weekend working on a variety of programming projects and that will generally be the end of it. I’ve never been really good at having fun, and being far away from most people who enjoy fun makes it easier for me to avoid those awkward situations.
The plus side of this is, like I said, that I could spend all weekend submerged in Concerto or working on work-related stuff without feeling like I’m really disappointing anyone. If I forget about dinner there’s no one to complain about being hungry, I’ll survive and make it up as I go. The downside of all this comes when I’m not feeling motivated to work at all so I stare at the empty screen or pretend to watch something on TV. Going places and doing things would require me to motivate myself, in turn evaluating the value of said experience, which is always really low if I’m the only participant. Any depressed / neglected mood I find myself in is only likely to be amplified by the emptiness of mutually occupiable furniture.
Good night moon.