I stood tried to figure out who had switched my looking glass for a bay window. Standing outside was a 30-something guy who looked like he hadn't shaved in a week. He had something on his shirt that looked like smudged cottage cheese. His hair was sticking out in three or four directions.
Though I wasn't sure if he could hear me through the window, I felt obligated to inform him, "It's the middle of the damned workday, man. Look at yourself. get away form my home."
Perhaps, not surprisingly, he offered the same instruction to me. I looked down. I was wearing a pair of three-day-old blue jeans with an A-1 steak sauce stain on the thigh. My t-shirt (something from a Mexican bar I don't remembeer ever visiting) was rumpled and bore the stains of a six-month-old child who can't control his formula. I hadn't shaved since the morning of the final table in Deauville. And my hair was a mess.
"But I have been working my ass off," I said out loud. I'm allowed to look like this.
In fact, while I was allowed, I didn't look too good. After nearly ten years of wearing suits five days a week and shaving every morning, my psyche had staged some sort of rebellion. I'd turned into a slob. It only took a week.
So, late in the week I decided to clean up. I shaved, put on some clean clothes, and ventured out into the world. I went to Circuit City and picked up a new TV and DVD player to replace the 15 year old equipment we'd been watching from bed for the past several years. I went out to eat and to the grocery store. I cooked dinner for my wife and watched a perfectly depressing movie about infidelity and kidnapping.
And then we made wild monkey love (that's me and the wife, not me and the TV).
About once a day, somebody new calls and says, "So, what's it like working from home?"
My standard answer is: "It's odd."
And it is. When I'm on the road, it's not a lot different froom when I was working in TV. It's constant action. I work from the time I wake up until the time I finally find my way to bed (or, on the rare occasion, into a bar). I write until the faux carpal tunnel sets in. I drink European Coke Light until I think I need a bed pan at my work station. I meet new people every day and find myself growing my and more comfortable with my new vocation.
Home is different, though. While I work 8-10 hours a day, I set my own schedule. I sleep a little later than I used to. I work in the late morning and all afternoon. In the early evening, I eat and let the kid vomit on me until he smiles. And then I work for another hour or two before finding a book to get my eyes off the screen. Right now, it's "Be Cool."
Still, it's odd. I can't quite say how. I'm not working any less than I used to, but it's different. I sense I'm finally getting a taste of how real people live. TV is such a screwed up world that you lose all perspective on what's real and what isn't. I thought that when I left TV that I would have a great sense of nostalgia about the old days. In fact, due to some unexpected events, I've developed an even greater sense of contempt for the business. I hate that's happened, but it has.
And so, here I sit. I showered today. I'm wearing a clean shirt and that's a plus.
What's a little funny is that I'm not even going to get a chance to get used to this. By the end of this week, I'll be in Miami. I can't comment on why yet, but it should be a funny story. Then, I head to Austria and Monte Carlo for two weeks.
I'm going to look out that window again and see if that stranger has left. If he hasn't, I'm going to buy a security system for the house.