Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gathering Feathers

I suppose if I knew more about what I was doing, I would have gotten all my feathers in place before I sailed off the edge. If I had been better about balancing my job and the rest of my life, I would have made the time to get all the preparations done in advance. But then, if I had that kind of balance, I probably would not have needed to set out on this solo flight in the first place. Mixing my metaphors, I'm like an explorer who has half a dozen errands to run on my way to the wilderness, walking into the REI with my pack already on my back and my walking stick in my hand.

It's been a week since I sat in the conference room with the HR person and turned in my ID badge. I've been sleeping in, eating healthy (mostly), and getting a start on this grand adventure of mine. I expected those things. What surprises me is how many little tasks have demanded my attention -- ordinary tasks that would have dropped themselves into my previous routine with barely a ripple. Dental checkup, car emissions inspection, investment review session, finding that esoteric little fluorescent tube for the hallway light. The little must-be-dones.

There are some big must-be-dones as well. Medical insurance is the biggest of them -- big because of the importance and the deadline looming less than a month away. After pricing several individual policies, I decided to see what COBRA would cost and go with that if it was at all reasonable. It wasn't reasonable. I had been on COBRA about 15 years ago, after I got swept up in a mass layoff. It wasn't the cheapest thing out there, but the price was reasonable enough. Not anymore. The monthly premium is now more than double what I can fit into my new budget. I have been asking around to see what my self-employed friends do, and I think I can make a go of a policy that pays the big-ticket, unexpected bills, and pay for the routine things out of pocket. How many of my fellow would-be flyers never leave the nest because of the profit-driven mess that is medical care in the US?

Other must-be-dones include getting my office equipment into shape and taming the chaos that is my desk. One software update demands another, some things go wireless more seamlessly than others. And always, there are the stacks of paper that must be beaten into submission. The sooner I can convince this little corner that it's a real workplace, the easier it will be to put it to real use.

So as not to spend all my time on mundane tasks, I am also doing little fun things. Easy things, minimal planning, quickly completed. Impromptu lunches and matinee movies. A small mosaic table-top for the plant stand that I am adapting into a coffee-cup table to set next to my reading chair.

The mammoth to-do list awaits, along with the concentrated periods of listening and observing. For now, I am replacing my missing feathers, smoothing them into place, and finding the little updrafts that will let me test these new wings of mine.

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