In My Head Like a Riot

This past weekend has been pretty fruitful, as I’ve dedicated a good bit of time to practicing some photography and learning about Swift UI, which is used to create applications for Apple devices. That said, it hasn’t been a particularly restful weekend as my patience for various sounds and the volume they’re projected at has all but vanished. The TV has become more annoying than usual, the boy’s high pitched tantrums are infuriating, and the echo in the house makes everything else two or three times more difficult to tolerate. It’s getting bad enough that I am actively ignoring as much sound as possible, which includes people’s voices as they never seem to cease. I’ve actually wished on several occasions this weekend to be deaf.

Is this normal, though? How often would a person willingly choose to permanently lose one of their senses for the sake of present discomfort? The question is as absurd as the wish. Podcasts, music, and conversations are really hard to enjoy without the use of our ears so being deaf would just lead to more problems. What I really seek is quiet … something that is impossible when working from home when not living alone.

Once again I’m wondering if it would make sense to give up working in my own environment and return to the office. There would be a number of immediate disadvantages to this, such as the hour of wasted time commuting from home to the city where I would end up using the very same computer. This lost time would cut into how much overtime I can do which, though it sounds like a good thing, really just means I’d be falling behind on projects faster. Heading to work during a typhoon or 40°C temperatures isn’t great, and I wouldn’t have the luxury of wearing little more than shorts and a t-shirt as professional attire is understandably expected from employees working at the schools. Then there’s the added issue of not being around the boy as much while he’s young and still very dependent on his parents. Most fathers do not have the same opportunity to watch their kids grow.

The advantage, however, would be the hard cut-off for when I need to put the work away and unwind. As it stands, my typical working hours are 10:00am to 6:30pm — with the occasional gap for lunch and tending to the boy — then from 9:30pm until 11:00pm. The evenings are generally dedicated to meetings with overseas colleagues and working on the really complex things that cannot be done while the boy is awake and running around the house. Unfortunately, this “quiet time” generally means that I continue working until after midnight, which is clearly not cool. The degree of exhaustion I feel is beyond absurd, yet I generally feel compelled to complete “just one more thing” again and again until I look at the clock and say “What the? It’s 2:30 in the morning!”1 Despite the gaps, or perhaps because of them, it feels as though I’m working all day long. From the time Nozomi’s morning walk is finished until I climb into bed 18 hours later, I’m thinking about work. Sure, the pay is decent, but this isn’t at all what I want to do for a company that is not my own. A hard cut-off might be the friction I need to properly “shut off” when not at the office, and the hour-long commute each way would be the buffer between work-mode and dad-mode.

Would this solve my listening problems, though? It would drastically increase the burden on Reiko, and I would still need to work from home two or three days a week when she goes to work. This would lead to more friction and possible resentment at home, which is the whole reason I made the enormous efforts to work from home in the first place2.

Ultimately what I am looking for is a quieter house where I don’t need to keep my ears open just in case someone is talking in my direction. I’d like to be able to block out the world when it’s feasible so that the only thing I hear is the ceaseless chatter in my head while solving problems. The boy starts kindergarten in February where he’ll be gone for a couple of hours every morning. Perhaps when he’s busy at school I can use some quiet time to work on complex things during the day rather than only at night. My goal is still to be in bed before midnight every day, and I would love to go back to not using and glowing screens an hour before sleeping. Right now neither of these goals are even remotely realistic, and it’s causing a lot of undue stress.

  1. This happened twice last week, and it’s not at all uncommon.

  2. It’s very uncommon for a male to be allowed to work from home in Japan. Very, very uncommon.