You Can’t Go Home Again

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Good morning, good evening, and good night, dear readers, wherever you might be.

So, you know that I have been thinking about working from home. As I have told you previously, the powers that be in our fair state who administer the telepsychiatry program I work in have decided that it is okay for some of us, or all of us as the case may be, to work from our homes. Telepsychiatry is one of those jobs that can really be done from anywhere, as long as the right equipment is available and the internet connection is fast and robust enough to allow for crystal clear, true-to-life video interaction between patient and doctor. 

When I got this news from my supervisor I was giddy at first. How wonderful to be able to get up, make the coffee, take my time getting ready, and then, at the appointed hour, to walk just a few steps to my home office, sit down, and begin to work. Then, at the end of my shift, be it eight or sixteen hours, to get up from my chair, walk out of my office, pour myself a beverage, and sit outside on the porch in my rocker to unwind. Nice, huh? Of course. 

Like tightrope walking, this whole work at home decision is not as easy as it looks. 

The things above are upsides, for sure. There are others.

Being available to cover for a few hours if one of my colleagues falls ill suddenly and coverage is needed. Not having to drive anywhere, saving on gas and time. Preparing lunch or other meals at home, instead of suffering through the usual fast food or other fare. Being able to control the thermostat to maintain comfort throughout the shift. And did I mention making my own coffee? Yeah, I thought I did. 

What are the downsides, some of which you, my readers, friends, and family, have already made me aware of?

Isolation is a huge deal already with a telepsychiatry job. We see hundreds, nay thousands of patients a year, sitting in a chair in front of a high definition monitor and seeing the patient, but blocking out most of the rest of the world in the process. This tends to be great for focusing on what is going on in twenty-five hospitals that are hundreds of miles away from us throughout the state, but terrible for seeing what is happening ten feet from us, right outside our door. 

Social interaction, even for a few minutes out of every hour, is important to my own mental health. At the mental health center, where my current telepsychiatry office is, I can get up, open my office door, step out into the hallway, and speak with colleagues who work on the same hallway or happen to be passing by on their way somewhere else. These little emotional breaks, no matter how small time-wise, mean a lot. 

Another big downside for me is blurring the boundaries between my own space and my work space. Right now, my home office is my sanctuary. I’m sitting in my chair in front of my iMac right now, typing out this missive to you, drinking a glass of grapefruit juice, listening to Chanticleer in the background through my beloved harman/kardon Soundsticks (Best desktop speakers ever. Go buy some right now. I’ll wait) and just enjoying being in this space. It’s the place I think, dream, read, enjoy my music, organize my life, pay my bills, write letters, and sometimes fall asleep in my chair. It’s my space, and I guard it jealousy. Bringing my work into it would violate it in a hard-to-express way that I’m not sure I’m ready for. 

So, the bottom line, dear readers? 

You already know my decision.

For now, home and work will remain separate places with separate feels and separate functions. I will continue to get up, enjoy talking to you in this way in the early morning, drinking juice and listening to the birds wake up outside my window. I will get dressed, take the short six minute drive to my telepsychiatry office, see patients there, and then enjoy the short ride back to the place that is, day by day, becoming my new home.

For now, that’s just the way it should be.

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28 thoughts on “You Can’t Go Home Again

  1. I agree. I’ve never quite gotten the ‘work from home is great’ mentality. I guess I spent too long at home when I wanted to be out in the world. I also guard my home with a passion — even friends aren’t really welcome here — it is my sanctuary — my peace in the storm — it is my families intimacy –not my worlds. Most understand this invaluable space in my heart/mind — a few get aggravated and try randomly to intrude. My guess is that my guarding will go from a Palace Guard mentality to a Pit Bull that can become a fierce PIT BULL if necessary as my hours away from my sanctuary increase dramatically.
    But to bring work into this sacred space, seems to me, to be blasphemous. *shrug* it probably isn’t. But that’s how it would feel to me.
    Have a great day and a great week — time for me to get ready for work — man that feels good to say 😀

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  2. G’donya, Doc! If you were a lion tamer (which, in a way, you already are), you wouldn’t want to remain in the cage 24/7. Those beasties can get mighty hungry…gotta save a limb or two for old age, right? Right! Well, you did mention a rocker… Rob

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  3. Oddly enough, Greg, I am facing somewhat the same conundrum….I don’t think I like that word actually. I find that I need a specific space for work, a specific space for fun, a specific space for family, etc…I could go on and on. I wish that I had the luxury of having an office “six minutes” away so that I could get out of my home and use my brain in a way that is still difficult for me to do right “at home.” I am more successful when I can “leave work” and “go home.” Otherwise, I have found that “work” runs round and round in my head like a hamster in an exercise wheel…big difference being that the hamster has sense enough to quit running when he is exhausted. I have not yet been able to do that.
    Have a great week. See you in Rome on September 28 “…the good Lord willing and the creek don’t (sic) rise.”

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  4. Mods, too. (Remember England’s “Mods” and “Rockers”???) For me, it’s a nice red wine–medicinal purposes, doctor’s orders, etc. Off we go, Doc. Carp the day!

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  5. Smart and wise choice, especially since your commute is all of a six-minute drive!

    I’ve been working from a home-based office since 1989 and love it. I get to control the lighting, temperature, food, nap time!, cat (no, I don’t get to control the cat), and all that. Took a while but I soon learned how to create necessary separation between work writing and other writing. I also created a ritual for tidying up the desk at the end of the day and shutting the office door.

    All this devolved rapidly during 18 months of apartment living when I had my office area tucked into a corner of the living room-dining room area. That’s when I realized the downside of working from home. Fortunately, I’m now back to having my own separate office space with a door to close at the end of the day.

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  6. Greg,

    Considering your field of work, I really do agree. Home satellite jobs work great for some (as they did for Ruth & Hoyt). But quite honestly, after my nephew graduated high school, entered college & my brother was suddenly alone, he found that the isolation during the work day PUS the isolation in the evening was a bit too much. Thank God he had a few outlets (tennis especially), b/c he really needed them! My sister has just retired from hers after many years. But as your other readers have noted, the home satellite job is not for everyone! Glad you’re pleased with your choice…good job, friend!

    M

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  7. PK,

    Yes, I can imagine how good it feels to you to be able to get ready for work and to leave the house to go do it! It was a long time coming for you.

    Congratulations. Keep it up!

    Greg

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  8. Mrs. B,

    Yes, it is hard to get the hamster off the wheel and resting for me too.

    I look forward to September 28th. I actually have tow reunions that day-one in Cochran, GA, with family, and the one in Rome with high school friends. I’m going to do my best to make both of them.

    Greg

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  9. Greg, I certainly do hope that we can literally “see” each other after so many years. People’s appearances change considerably…often for the better, I think, because, as with fine wine, the aging process elicits a much more attractive product. Of course, that is up to a point when the wine begins to turn to vinegar if not properly preserved. Very much like people, do you agree? Hugs, Ms. B

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  10. Dear, Dr. Greg,

    As I have reread my comment to you, I feel that it could be grossly misunderstood if I do not explain that I was referring to the fact that “I” am 72+ years old and have been “retired” from Model High School for 17+ years now. The “aging process” referred to is mine, and I hesitate to “…go back home again” because I am very self-conscious of my own aging process.

    When “I” was teaching during the 70’s, I was in my 30’s and had 2 young children. Now, I am in “my 70’s” with 5 grandchildren and one great granddaughter who shares my name. In my head, I feel that I “think” much the same way that I did 40+ years ago; however my personal appearance has (quite naturally) aged. My reference to “fine wine” was a tongue in cheek comment about myself because I think I am a better person than I was 40+ years ago, and I believe that I have matured (“like fine wine”) into something/someone much more valuable than the grape juice from which I have evolved.

    Does that make any more sense to you.?

    Perhaps I am commenting more to the very successful and acclaimed “psychiatrist” (DR. GREG SMITH) than to the former Model High School student (Greg Smith). I see you “70’s students” as mature adults, many of whom have “matured” into exceptional professionals.

    I have real and sincere reservations as to how I would be “perceived” by ALL of you “70’s students” because I know how I remember my own high school teachers. They have stayed the same age in my mind along with their same “physical” images because I have not seen most of them in the 54 years since I graduated from Pepperell High School in 1959.

    My brother, Eddie Morris, who graduated the same year as I did, tries always to attend the 50+ year reunions that are held in Rome each year in May. However, he returns as ED MORRIS, who, in my mind is his and my father. He is still “Edidie” to me but he is alos an accomplished professional whose wife has a doctorate and is the Chair of Early Education at Mercer University. She seldom has been able to attend with “Eddie” because the reunions have inevitably been scheduled during commencement week at Mercer, and she must make the choice to be there as the “professional educator ” that she still is. I have NOT been able to attend any of these “high school reuinons” because of family obligations which I always put ahead of my own desires.

    I am not at all self-conscious about attending those reunions with my high school classmates; but I would imagine that any of the teachers from Pepperell Highs school who are still alive today might possibly hesitate to “spoil” the image that has remained in the minds of many of my “Class of 1959” peers. It is probably a “female thing” because “females” are much more conscious (I believe) of the toll taken on us as we have gotten older. Therefore, I jokingly was referring to MYSELF as “fine wine” because I do that…I make jokes because I try to see life from a perspective of humor because the serious side of my life for the past 30+ years has not been very pleasant.

    Perhaps you read the almost daily postings made by my friend and former colleague, Bill Amos from the “OLD” MODEL HIGH SCHOOL there near the Shannon Village. He and I shared the opportunity to sponsor and “put together” the Junior-Senior Prom each year along with Sherry Gatlin. We had a ball –no pun intended–doing that together. It was one of the highlights of my personal teaching career because it was my individual responsibility to guide the Junior Class in their always (yes, back then “always”) very successful fund raising efforts which began yearly in October and continued through April. At that point in time, Sherry, Bill, and I then began working of the actual project of the “physical” prom that was traditionally held in the “old, leaky gym” which was a part of the”old,” now demolished school buildings in that “old” unique and wonderful campus complex.

    Hopefully, you do remember seeing and/or being in the classrooms which had the fabulous windows which could be opened to allow fresh air into the classroom along with the amazing view of the wooded area just across the road. By the time we moved to the now “demolished” ROUND buildings with NO WINDOWS and NO FRESH AIR, Bill Amos had moved on to teach at Cass High School, but Sherry Gatlin and I remained at Model and continued to “do our thing” minus the fantastic expertise of the consummate artist and philosopher we see in those postings that Bill puts on FACEBOOK today.

    Sherry is still in Rome, GA, I believe. Bill is in Guyton, GA, and I am in Ocala, FL. I don’t know what Sherry is doing these days; however, Bill remains the vital, active, unique artist who paints, sculpts, grows organic vegetables, and is now studying to be a “shaman” …which I just barely understand but definitely appreciate.

    I am currently writing on a weekly basis for a local newspaper while I attempt to complete a non-fiction work about “Model” students from 1963-1996, 4 children’s books (LIFE WITH RILEY, OLIVIA’S WORM GARDEN, EM AND ME, and DOMINIC’S DREAM) using memories of my 4 GRANDS as children under the age of 5. Along with those things, I have been writing and rewriting a book based on the life of my grandmother and mother who lived in Lindale, GA.
    Too many “irons in the fire” to be able to complete any one of them any time soon. Oh, Well! Keeps my mind vital anyway. (lol)

    Now, since i have digressed, let me return to the point I was going to try to make.

    Thirty-three years (my entire secondary teaching career) was spent at 2 different campuses of the same “Model” School. The history of that institution far surpasses that of many others around the state of Georgia and the “beauty of the original experiment to create a ‘Model” School was never lost to me. At one time, I was told that I was the only teacher who had never “left Model” to teach in another school during my entire career as a secondary “educator” with the exception of Dr. Nevin Jones (who was my second cousin, first boss, and mentor). The main difference between Nevin and me was that I never left the classroom to “move up in the higher echelons of the education field.” I saw no need to “move on or UP” because I loved WHERE I WAS.

    I was blessed from the day I completed my student teaching at West Rome High School and took over the vacancy left by Willis Harper who was quite ill and had not been in his classroom for more that 6 weeks. His students had been “taught” by a series of “substitutes” before Nevin interviewed me and hired me “on the spot” to try to help to educate “Model” students.

    The opportunity I had in what I still see as the most nearly ideal setting for me personally as a “professional” educator of young men and women was the challenge and joy of my lifetime. I was blessed to have been able to be associated with exceptional young people who would grow up to become lawyers, judges, civil servants, engineers, professional athletes, homemakers and mothers, teachers, school administrators, and one exceptionally prominent and innovative psychiatrist…DR. GREG SMITH.

    What more could I have ever asked of God than the blessing He gave me on October 12, 1963,(the original Columbus Day) to be allowed to serve in my little world and watch 100’s maybe even 1,000’s of MODEL STUDENTS become MODEL ADULTS and PROFESSIONALS with children, GRANDS, and even GREAT-GRANDS who will go on to continue the process which began as the “dream” of those who founded the original MODEL SCHOOL in that old house with the big front porch on what was then Calhoun Road.

    Yes, I have used you, DR. GREG, as my sounding board to remind me once again of the honor and privilege I had to be part of “history.” I, too, find it very hard, as you recently put it, to “go home again.” I am almost afraid to tamper with the marvelous images I have in my memory bank of a simpler, less sophisticated, and very definitely more nearly ideal community of “MODEL” students. AND…I don’t want to show up at a reunion of some of the most special people possible whom God allowed to pass through my life and, perhaps, destroy their memories even of me because I am NOT physically the person I once was.

    Thanks for obviously taking the time to get to this “end” of my latest written account of my life…as a “MODEL” teacher who has tried to live up to that name. I often wonder how my career stacks up in what God had planned for me to do. Did I EVER “…make a significant difference” with my life as I have prayed daily to do some 60+ years now since I first prayed that prayer as a 12 year old 7th grader. I can only hope and say…”Honestly, God, I tried.”

    Hugs,
    Ms B
    P. S.
    Sadly, as I was attempting to edit my long “response/reply,” my lack of expertise with my new MACBOOK PRO has caused me not to be able to find the beginning of this expose of my love for Model High School and its students over the years. I hope I did not miss completing my “editing” of my thoughts and comments because I do not want to chance “losing” what I have put into print and sent to someone I expect to understand my emotional attachment to Model High School” which has certainly NEVER been just a campus to me. MHS has always been the people who passed through the doors, walked or ran down (or around lol) the halls, and moved on back out the doors to become who they are today…the “best” of the “best” in my estimation.

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  11. Greg,
    Please do not feel the need to take time away from your very fortunate patients who need you to help them through troubled times. I was writing as much for myself as I was writing a “long explanation” to you. (Most of the time, when I write something of that nature, I just “save to drafts” and reread it later to see if I still feel the way I did when I wrote that piece. Doing that often helps me to clarify my genuinely deep thoughts and true feelings from any temporary emotional reactions)

    I appreciate your even thinking about responding. That means a great deal to this former educator who hopes that some of the students, with whom I had contact many years ago, still realize that I am gratified to know that I made some positive impact on people like you who move on to do “impactf”ful things for others.

    Take care of yourself….not just others… please.

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  12. Mrs. B,

    Thank you for this very thoughtful reply, which took us both a “far piece” down memory lane.

    The bottom line for me?

    We have all experienced life, grown, had success and failures, aged, and look different than we did back Model in the seventies. I understand exactly what you mean, in that when I have recently reconnected with members of my graduating class, I’m transported right back to some of the conversations that we had at eighteen. I feel eighteen again in a very odd but real way. I worry that I won’t measure up in their eyes to the standards that are set, not by them, but by me.

    All that worry did not make any difference at all when we connected and ate and talked and laughed. We enjoyed each other for who we were, who we are, and who we might be to each other in the future.

    We will all see each other, I hope, in September. We will celebrate the experiences we had together back in those idyllic days of the early Model High School. We will enjoy each other for who we are now, including stories of work, love gained and lost, children, grandchildren, hobbies, and dreams. We will think about what it means to really be a part of history, to be people who were there then and who can enjoy each other now.

    It would be a shame to miss out on this chapter of our not-finished history because of concerns and fears that exist nowhere else but in our own minds.

    I’ll see you in September.

    Fondly,

    Greg

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  13. Mrs. B, If you don’t mind my intrusion, Dr. Greg is right, and I hope you do go back. You’re beloved not just for what you were, but for who you were and still are. And to bring the thought full-circle, what you were to your students will never change–for generations! They impart your lessons (and I use this word in the broadest sense) to their own children, and their children’s children, and so on. Your presence at the reunion will only reinforce and refresh these lessons, and I strongly suspect you’ll delight your students once again just by walking through the door.

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  14. Mrs. B, (sorry Greg…I know this is your blog!;)

    Ditto everything Greg said! You were a tremendous influence on all of us!! In fact you were one of my very favorite teachers! (you and Mr. Mac!!!). Greg is right. When we met in February, time vanished. Disappeared. Literally. It was as if I had only been separated from those very very dear friends for only days & not decades. Like finding a misplaced precious possession. Something I had been so very fortunate to own. I TRULY understand your reservations. I was a nervous wreck before seeing these amazing friends. I even pondered just backing out. My own lack of self assurance maybe…my fear that not only would I not recognize my own old friends, but horror of horrors they would not recognize me!!!

    But thank God I didn’t cave to my own insecurities. I have come to understand that these “opportunities” are presented to us for a reason. They are truly gifts from God above…blessings if you will. I know that I have been blessed beyond measure since meeting with the best friends of my life back in February. Something I would never give back. Something I am very thankful for. Something that warms my heart….to know that I am now reconnected with some of the most important people I have had the great honor & privilege of knowing. And not just knowing, but caring for & loving. YOU will receive the same. I guarantee it!! See you next month! 🙂

    Much love,

    Maria

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  15. Thanks to all of you who took the time to read and understand my slight hesitation. My plan is to be there and to reconnect with you all. I think it will be a fabulous evening, and I really want to be a part of it.
    Looking forward and sending big hugs,
    MS B

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