I hurried to work, then I ran around being late for a bit. Then I had a meeting with someone and calmed things down for an hour. Then it was back to running round trying to coordinate the uncoordinatable and failing appropriately. Around lunchtime, lunch was had. This proved to be relaxing and discussion-oriented, with a walk back to the office giving me another opportunity to revise (as in relearn) the advice from this weekend. Apparently doing myself down is not attractive. I knew that. Perhaps I set out to make myself less attractive so at least I can fail on my terms. See... there's me doing it. Not attractive.
Anyway, the afternoon was no less weird than the morning. If anything, it got weirder. As a result, I ended up in the other office I go to, worked up to the point of excessively stressed, and really passing the stress on to other people I was dealing with. The cause of the stress was work-related, lateness-related, exhaustion-based, gig-lateness related, and also caused by the fact that I knew I was missing an important meeting to which my boss seemed to find it necessary to summon me to using text speak when I attempted to explain why it might be more successful if we did it over the phone.
In the end, I failed in everything I set out to do.
I missed the meeting. We missed the desired deadline and delivery. I missed the set off time for my gig, by a long way. I missed the achievement of harmony and goodwill. I missed all of these goals with a chest full of stress and a head full of conflicts.
It wears you down.
I am aware when stress is getting to me and I'm also aware when a situation has gotten out of hand. In a meeting room, before we discussed the way forward, I asked permission to step out of the moment for a minute. I described objectively what had just happened and this gave me enough distance to see it afresh and replan from outside of the issue, rather than from the near panic inside. This was a useful technique, but I think it came a bit late in the day. There's no job satisfaction in not hitting targets.
I'd even brought a bit tin of sweets with me (my own contribution, not a company thing) to thank the team for their ridiculously hard work over the weekend. However, trust is not bought with sweets or with stress.
Not happy, I ran back to my car (after everything had been settled enough to leave) and then headed to Taunton for the evening's gig. I like doing gigs. They're for the audience, but they're for me too. I was supposed to be there at 8.15. I'd proposed being there for 9. My sat nav said it would be nearer 10!
I wasn't pleased. Still, I knew I was nearing exhaustion and my body was telling me that I was hungry. I also didn't quite have the fuel to get to the gig. I stopped to refill everything. It helped a little. With various people to chat to, the journey out went by faster. I managed to get into a giggling fit with my oldest friend over trying to speed up one's curry by ordering a "Lamb Sooner". This was hilarious at the time.
With my laughter battery recharged a little, I felt strong enough to do the gig. As it is, I can usually turn it on for a gig (except that time in Southampton, but that's history). I wasn't pleased with myself this morning, when I forgot my jeans. This meant I had to do my gig in my work trousers. I carry spare plectrums in my wallet, so one was soon ready for action in my back pocket.
I did the gig and I had fun. I did some very very wrong material and made some jokes out of nowhere. It was fun and it was entirely for me. It built my self-confidence back up and washed away the stress.
I got to do the long drive home without company and I went through a process of starting out quite up from the gig and then chilling out a lot. This reduced some of my protection against the bad things on my mind, but not all of it. I admit that I went to a service station and bought some crap to eat and drink, but I reckon I can justify that with the lack of proper nutrition over the weekend. I'm sure my clothes are too loose anyway!
Things play on my mind when I'm alone. This year has introduced me to a world of things that play on my mind. When I'm tired, hungry and stressed, my defences against these things are at a low ebb. A bit of laughter, whether it's my own, or my power to generate it inside an audience, seems to shine away some of the darker thoughts, and for that reason alone, it's worth rushing across hundreds of miles to random arts centres to make it happen.
I wish I could fix the world with laughter. In truth, it can't be done. I can't fix the things I want to fix so simply.
This week looks like it's going to be a challenge!