Thursday, January 26, 2006

what is on thy mind?

My girlfriend asked me recently if it looks like we want the same things out of life. My immediate answer was, yes, we do, it's just that our schedules are a little wacky and they don't mesh so well. She teaches little tykes all day, and I deal with contractors and cad software during that time. It's what I like to contend with, and the hours fit me fine. The problem is that I don't finish up until early evening, and when I come home, I like to do a little research, write, watch a show, or read a magazine. She wants to do family-type things: elliptical machine at the gym, cook a carb-free 3 course meal, discuss the day, etc. Unfortunately, that's what I would prefer - at 11pm when she is fast asleep.

Time recently published an article about this, and I was shocked that there are specific categories of night and morning people, and that it's generally an all-or-nothing proposition.
I tried to change after college, going into work earlier, bringing a gym bag to work, stopping at the store for some vegetables, but it just didn't make me happy. I was fighting it all the time. I really only felt at home when I was teaching a class, working full time, and playing pickup hockey at midning weekdays. That is my prime, and I loved the feeling.

So, does this come down to family life vs. career life? She wants to have a routine that closely matches what she was raised with, three square meals, naps, and American Idol. I want to have a highly varied schedule that lists academic lectures, discussions, recreation, one TV show a week, design and fabrication, and a continuation of everything that was "life" in the past, before I started working. It's not exclusive of family, yet it always feels that way.

Also in the spirit of rejuvination, I really am hoping to embrace the inner nerd again. Two things have sparked this. One, is the discovery of the open source housing project, house_n, and the media lab, and the people over there that look at the industry like I do. I am no longer feeling like architecture needs to be #1 in my life. Sometimes the glossy magazines and the starchitects just make me sick. I used to have pride in finding a rare house or bus stop done by some famous designer. Like I "collected" it or something. But, I have a near-repulsive attitute toward the sigularity of these projects now. I see the effort that goes into it, and the coutless others that make it happen. These are the ones who should be rewarded, but instead it's the golden boy that drew the thumbnail. What a sham. Even worse is the desire by millions to ascend to that role. You see it in the interns and graduates in any architecture office. Dress the part, be hyper- brash, promote your design skills, and pretend you are better than the draftsmen. This is the part of architecture that I was dragged into, and I had in my starstruck eyes for most of my education years.

Well, the trigger was finishing the exams, all nine of them, and realizing that the common architect, the one who knows the stud spacings, the moment connections, the earned hour rate, the curtain wall loading, etc. is the real deal. These people are overworked, underpaid, and have aspirations to be the designers and rainmakers. But, like in any business, it's not going to happen for everyone. And now that I see this outlook, I have realized that I use very few of my skills in what I am doing. I have several computers that I know how to dual-boot, make software do most anything, and even use my ham radio licence to get GPS coordiates of where I am sometimes (this is the other thing that triggered my recent discovery). This is all quite dorky, but it's what I know, or KNEW.

So, this came off more like a venting, but as I approach the end of my internship to become a real live architect, it seems somehow like that door is closing. Or to be more appropriate, it's a long hallway with several side exits. I don't want to go through the one I am destined for, but there may be a much more rewarding way out.

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