In a rather complete and abrupt lifestyle shift, I now go to a "job," in an "office." The first couple days have gone well: I'm still useless, but getting better. I made some minor changes to irrelevant things, often with supervision. Tomorrow the real fun starts, when we sit down with the head of the team I'll be working with for a couple months, and start to learn how the systems all work and tie together. My co-workers, not knowing my background, seem to think I will be cowed or dismayed by how bad the code is; eventually they'll get a better sense of what I've been doing with myself these past 6 years.
They're also training me to be a sysadmin, which is a bit outside my comfort zone--I'm not a sysadmin, I'm a software engineer. Isn't that interesting, though? "I'm a software engineer." I have this whole piece of identity involving the work that I do, and I have this internal rebellion against the fact that "Software Engineer" is not really my job here. It affects my interactions with other people in the company, especially the people who are SEs; and even on my team, my background is so different that I feel like a stranger in a foreign land. As Anna says, it's good that I've spent some time that way recently.
Anna has been visiting a friend up north for a couple of days, leaving me the apartment to myself. I'm enjoying the solitude: this apartment is a good size for just me. I've been listening to NPR again--I've gotten out of the habit, because while Anna can suck it up and deal, J hates it. In the quiet, I'm relaxing a bit, and noticing the sense of cramped-ness that I normally have to manage. I'm also dreaming of having my stuff unpacked and accessible, and a comfy place to sit and read, and generally starting to think I'd like us to find a bigger place before the summer.
I'm also not at all sure I'm up for the project of owning a house right now. My commute on the train is still 60 minutes, though I think I'm going to get a magnesium-frame kick-scooter that should shave off 15-20 minutes. My time is feeling crunched at the moment. Being alone in the house, I can get up, sit zazen, go for a run, and eat breakfast, all on my own schedule, and have plenty of time. With Anna and especially with J, I run on their schedule. I could do my own schedule, but then I would miss some snuggling and playing time with J, and that time is important to us, both individually and together. Then again, I'm cranky if I don't exercise, leaving me with less energy to put toward enjoying and being present for my time with Anna and J.
And I need to carve out time for aikido and Zen practice, but if I do those things for the purpose of deepening my relationship to the rest of the world, and they come at the expense of my relationships...well, you see the problem. Spiritual-yet-stupid parents can sometimes neglect their parenting in the pursuit of their spiritual path, a failure sometimes called the "Zen orphan" phenomenon. It's easy to do it wrong and think you're doing it right. (This is why it's important to have a teacher, who can tell you when your head's on sideways.)
The solitude is nice, but after 36 hours or so, I remember that living alone was only about 90-95% awesome, and we all live together to get that extra awesomeness. Soon the Barbarian Hordes return, and we'll all be home again.