Today is (mainly by coincidence) the first day of a new phase in my job life. (I hesitate to use the term "professional" mostly because it's hard to associate oneself with such adjectives while sitting in a dark room wearing pajama pants and a Quake IV t-shirt. But oh well.)
Today is the day I formally begin a real schedule. Gasp, shock, horror! It's like the total antithesis of the PJs-and-t-shirt ethos that I'm trying so hard to hang on to. Hence, feeling like I'm a step away from that ultimate death, formalwear. My bladder exhausts its contents in terror at the very typing of that dreaded word.
It began Friday night, just before dinner (normal, human-time dinner, like 7PM-ish) when I got an IM from my boss. Nothing too spectacular; there were some rumours going around that some big decisions have been made regarding our schedule. (They have, but they're not all that fascinating, and in any case, it's a secret, so nyahh.)
The big topic of conversation was communication failures - specifically, mine. I was about this close to getting defensive when I noticed the last time I'd replied to a work mail - the 17th. Then that sort of "whoops... shit" sensation took over, and the rest is (admittedly recent) history.
Apparently, when working with a team on a time-critical milestone, it's a dumb idea to leave status emails unanswered for two weeks. That cozy little back corner of my mind labeled "Common Sense" is mumbling something about being a total dumbass, but I can't really hear it too much over the "oh shit" that's being screamed out by all the rest of my neurons. Makes a guy positively wish for a hangover, just so all the thinky-stuff would shut the hell up.
So, after meekly confessing to the fact that I do, in fact, totally suck, and I'm really stupid, we sorted out a plan. The plan is basically that I actually be online and available for messaging conversations on some kind of predictable time schedule. Oh, and there's a clause in there about actually being awake and such - I guess being passed out the first two times my boss tried to reach me didn't really make a hugely positive impression.
My schedule's pretty easy: I just need to be online and paying attention to my IMs between 1PM and 6PM every day. The wrinkle in this convenient schedule is that those times happen to occur several thousand miles away. The rough translation is that I get to haul my dumb programmer ass out of my nice, cozy, warm bed every single cruel, bitter, cold, dark morning at the ungodly hour of 7AM. I briefly considered moving to New Zealand just so the 6 hour time difference would work in favor of my insomniac tendencies, but decided I'm too lazy to mess with it.
On the positive side, it still leaves my afternoons wide open for "discretionary time" - which means that I'll inevitably sleep through most of my afternoons, due to not wanting to get up at the buttcrack of dawn. I mean, jeez, the last time I woke up before 8 AM on a regular basis was in bloody middle school. I don't think I even remember what an alarm clock sounds like.
In the end, though, I think it's absolutely the right thing to do. I was honestly starting to see some weird discrepancies between the work I was doing and what seemed to be expected by everyone else on the team; this is fine when you are a contractor making hourly rates, and both sides of the party fully expect you to be a swindling sonofabitch who inflates all the milestones for the extra cash. It is another matter entirely when, y'know, you're supposed to be all trustworthy and human and such. (Jeez, come to think of it, they probably want me to quit using miniature poodles to practice my field goals.)
So thus ends an era... roughly 6.5 months of me being an irresponsible, disorganized dick at my job. It was fun to get paid for it while it lasted, but it seriously took a pretty severe toll on my morale. (I think the little angstfest entry from last week is a solid sign of that, in retrospect.) In the coming weeks, expect me to gripe at length about the injustices of being forced to operate (and use my brain even!) before noon every day, and the horrid miserable results that are sure to follow... like actually getting stuff done for a change.
However shall I cope.