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Wednesday, May 10, 2000

The Boss is on the road this week. Usually that's my opening to get caught up on some of the work I've let slip. When he's away from his office, he can't have his fax machine attached to mine like an umbilical cord. And that's how the week has gone, until today. He's found a place to set up an office, with phone and fax and a flunky (his son-in-law) to run errands for him.

He's staying at his daughter's house in San Diego. She's expecting twins in August, and he volunteered to spend a week there getting the house ready for the new babies. I'm sure they're happy to get the help, but I'm equally sure that they will be even happier to see him leave next week. His presence tends to absorb all the energy in the vicinity.

It's a little like having the Iron Giant staying in your guest bedroom. He's a nice enough fellow, for a massive metal man, but you have to spend all your time collecting scrap metal. You wouldn't want him to get the munchies without an old rusty bumper handy, or you'll find him absently foraging in your silverware drawer.

I don't know if their house is set up to run a construction company, especially the way the Boss operates. He usually has two phones going at the same time, three if he can connect a speaker phone to the setup. But the fax is his best friend, because he can bark orders with no strain to the vocal cords. He gets angry and scribbles the outline of a letter in pencil on a legal pad, sticks it into the fax machine, and presses the button next to my name. Like magic, within minutes, his machine spits out a fully formatted, grammatically correct, legible version, which he can then sign and fax on to the target of his wrath.

Until today, my life since I moved has been mostly stress-free. That's saying something, because I ordinarily am so concentrated on my work that I react badly to interruptions. I put pressure on myself to get through each task on my list, sometimes skipping meals and breaks for the sake of maintaining momentum. I haven't had to do much of that here, and even the Boss noticed it yesterday. "You sound so much more relaxed," he told me, as he was barreling down the highway with (at most) one hand on the steering wheel.

"Well, yes. That's because you're not bugging me every fifteen minutes," I responded silently.

This is probably not the best mindset for an administrative assistant/office manager/executive lackey, even if I worked for a normal person, who sometimes considered that the world doesn't revolve around him and that the meaning of life isn't that he gets whatever he wants just by breathing his every desire into the atmosphere. Which I don't. I don't work for that kind of person. I work for a raving lunatic.

My job really has two contradictory facets. On one side, I'm supposed to keep the business end of Western Sprocket running smoothly. At the same time, I have to twitch every time the Boss gets energetic with the operative end of his cattle prod. And like it. (As far as he knows, anyway.)

I came close to kicking in a wall today for the first time since I moved. Fortunately, I was wearing shoes at the time, and had the self-restraint to kick the side of a hardwood bookcase instead. No damage this time. I'm still intimidated by the unspoiled expanses of white paint here. With luck, I'll keep that healthy respect for the walls and doors, and I won't have to ask for help repairing them.

That's my goal, anyway. I can best keep things under control by not letting these petty annoyances get to me. I've been working on that kind of discipline, and I'm mellow these days, compared to how I've been in the past. Hyde's still there, but Jekyll's calling the shots. Really.

My roses are blooming.


Unfortunately, so are the dandelions.


And with rain predicted for the weekend, my new weed eater will probably be staying in the box. I knew I was moving into the country, but I didn't know it was such a jungle out here.

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