Furlough Man and the Content Beast

1. I am still alive.

2. I do still want to blog.

3. (and I don’t mean Twitter Party RSVP posts)

September started out so nicely.  I was sticking to my 2013-2014 school year plan to end my workday every day by 4:00, focusing my time on my family except for the evenings when I needed to return to the computer to host an evening event.  My daughter and I sat in our folding-chairs-in-a-bag twice a week and read while my son played soccer for two decidedly delicious to listen to British coaches.  Choir practices started again for the year, and I found myself jumping around and singing every Wednesday afternoon.  Piano lessons on Tuesdays.  Ballet on Saturdays.  Singing in church three services a week.  Life was good.

But October was looming.

I try to say yes judiciously, no as often as possible, and work hard to keep sanity and balance in my life, but every now and then I get chunks of time on my calendar that make me appear to be a masochistic nutjob who pays her therapist but fails to take her advice.  A two week period in October was quickly becoming one of those times.  And then my husband was told he’d be traveling out of the country for a week for work…smack in the middle of it.  I immediately got to work figuring out how to juggle all the things and survive through the end of the month.

And then the government shut down.

I fully understand that for most of the country, the government shutdown was just a news story, the details of which were only slightly more clear than the plot line of Lost.  In my home, however, it meant that my husband went to bed on September 30th a counter-terrorism policy analyst and woke up October 1st a stay-at-home-dad.

I looked at my calendar.  I looked at my husband.  I sat down at my computer and I’m fairly sure I didn’t get up until this morning.  While my husband took the kids to the bus, got them off the bus, and organized areas of our home that I forgot existed, I finished writing a book, prepped and hosted 12 twitter parties, flew to and from Atlanta twice, spoke at an event in NYC, and appeared at a PTA meeting in Kansas via Skype.  Somewhere in there I managed to help out at choir practice, sing and play the piano in church a couple times, but other than that I used my husband’s furlough days to work from 7 a.m. until 9:30 or 10:00 with just a 15 minute break to eat dinner with my family each night, dinners that my husband prepared and that got better and better as the shutdown continued.

Financially, we were fine.  We’re the people that Suze Orman approves when they call in, asking to buy a xylophone.  We have emergency funds and college savings accounts, high credit scores and low interest rates because while most of the world was enjoying their 20’s courtesy of American Express, we were wearing shoes we’d had since high school and hoarding money like a kid collecting rainbow loom bracelets.

And my husband.  OH MY GRAVY.  The second he finished his required shutdown procedure (yes, this is a real thing), he set out to save the world.  Okay, so really he took doughnuts to places like churches and schools and carried donated goods into charities for little old ladies, but you get the idea.  The man really needed a cape.  He was Furlough Man and even ended up with a mention in the Washington Post.  

My productivity soared and one Sunday afternoon after busting out a chapter and five related pieces of online content in what I swear was only twenty minutes, I may have yelled, “I AM A CONTENT BEAST!!!!” at the top of  my lungs, scarring my children and elderly cat for life.  I don’t really remember what my children look like, what day their library books go back, or where their piano teacher lives, but I survived that horrific block of time on my calendar with only a couple migraines and a pinched nerve in my left shoulder that occasionally makes my left hand go numb.

This morning I woke up on the other side of it all, my husband back to work for the first time since September 30th.  I managed to get the kids out the door on time, their lunches packed and in their backpacks, Girl Scout sash and permission slip ready to go.  The last time I walked them to the bus it was decidedly warmer.  A deer in the neighbor’s yard glared at me as I walked by in my flip-flops, both of us able to see our breath in the early morning chill, both of us wondering what the other was doing there.

“You eat in the front yard now?”

“You wear flip flops in 45 degree weather?”

I’m ready to get back to normal now.  Thanks, Furlough Man, for getting your Content Beast through the last three weeks.

Written by: Amy

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