Once the heat of the Texas summer finally broke, I needed a break. I felt a little bit stressed and really rather depressed, and I made plans to drive up to visit Mom in Northwest Arkansas, rest some, sit on the deck and look out at the trees, the valley, the picturesque little farm down there, and just relax and try to get my head straight some.

Alas. My employer had other plans.

On the Friday before I left, due to some security precautions, my computer (and those of all of my coworkers throughout the organization) had our passwords revoked. Many users were able to resolve their issues over the phone with tech support, but a good number of us had our computers essentially bricked. Workers at an office had no trouble at all: just plug into Ethernet and *poof* solved. But remote workers (like me) were forced to mail our laptops back to the home office, where someone turned them on, typed a few commands, turned them off again, and mailed them back to us.

Oh, the joy’s of working from home.

So I dropped my laptop in the mail and drove to Arkansas anyway. I took 75 until 69 split off, then, at Muskogee, I took 62 across to Fayetteville, then took “the fast way” across Don Tyson and up the usual roads to Mom’s.

There was some construction on 62, somewhere in Northeastern Oklahoma that had the highway shut down to one lane, and I sat there for awhile, took a few pictures, only one worth sharing.

In fact, that’s the only one from the whole drive up (half a roll each of Kodak Pro Image 100 and Fomapan 200) that’s worth sharing. Such was my mental state then (and now too, more or less). Anyway, I arrived at Mom’s in the mid afternoon on a Sunday.

My laptop arrived at the main office on Monday morning, and Mom and I went into Fayetteville to visit the excellent Dickson Street bookshop. I was distracted, preoccupied, still wound up in my own head and not really feeling it. I picked up, and put back, a couple of books, and mostly wandered around. I wasn’t bored, as boredom is counterrevolutionary, but I did feel some deep malaise, and Mom was a quite shocked when I walked out with nothing.

And then the calls started.

Over lunch, through the hour drive back to Mom’s, all through naptime, and culminating during a grocery run in the early evening, I was on the phone. First with coworkers who needed assistance (no problem); then with tech support, who ended the evening by suggesting my laptop was all fixed up, and all but promised that it would arrive the next day. I managed to start a roll during a call, but not much more.

Oh, the joys of a fancy work phone.

So on Tuesday, I sat around Mom’s all day, waiting on the FedEx man to arrive. About 2:30 in the afternoon, after spending most of the morning responding to emails and hopping on the phone to help some of my coworkers again, I reached out to tech support. The same guy from Monday night told me he was just starting on my laptop and that it would be in the mail that night.

I started to feel the vacation slipping away from me.

Two days down; three to go.

Wednesday arrived, and the laptop was scheduled to arrive by noon, so I had the morning free, and took a few frames of the sunrise, then settled in to wait.

The FedEx guy was there at about 11:50. I had an hour worth of work that was must-do, and planned before the vacation even started, so I logged on to test that the computer really was fixed, rock out the simple task, and set an out of office message. Sadly, multiple people noticed me online and I ended up working for the rest of the day, helping with various tasks, responding to questions, and generally not vacationing.

Three days down, two to go.

Depression and desperation mounting, late Wednesday night, I suggested that Mom and I take a drive to Tulsa, to visit Gardner’s and roam around some, visit the Gilcrease Museum (Blake Little’s photographs of the Gay Rodeo sounded interesting; the Museum itself was largely underwhelming), and just try to escape. She agreed, and so Thursday, we hopped in the car and headed out.

It was at a bookstore in the early afternoon, and a visit to the Sonic shortly after, where I had the—I don’t know what the right word is… “epiphany” seems too special—foggy notion or whatever it was that I wrote about earlier this week.

We stayed in the same hotel as last year and I managed to play around and relax some.

And Thursday ended with only a few work-related text messages, from one of my team members who also had to ship a computer back to the home office.

Friday started off with a nice breakfast, then a driving tour of the ORU campus (no pictures, sadly: I wasn’t feeling it at all, and with all that gaudy great, futuristic 1960s architecture! Such a shame). The clouds were low and hid the top half of the CityPlex Towers (originally part of the ORU empire campus). Despite my malaise, I couldn’t let that one pass.

After ORU, we meandered all over Tulsa. (I got turned around and drove about 40 miles west, way out of Tulsa… thought I was driving East, back into town. Shows how much attention I was paying, and how preoccupied I was with other things.) It was good to get lost, especially since our next stop, the Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art, didn’t open until 11.

We arrived about 11:15, and I tried to force some pictures there, but mostly failed. I do like this one, of Mom, though.

After the Gilcrease, we started back to Eureka.

On the way out of Tulsa, though, I got a text from a team member who had been unable to enter their time for the previous two weeks due to having to mail their computer back for repairs. I spent every pause of the drive, most of our lunch stop, and all of naptime working to get the time entered, and scolding tech support for not getting the computers back in a timely manner. Then I found out that the tools my team uses were down, and I spent some of the evening trying to ascertain what went wrong. (I was unable to.)

And that was the last day of vacation… (If you’re keeping count, that’s 4 days of work, and 1 of vacation, during which I did a tiny bit of work. If it had been the other way around—1 day of work and 4 days of mostly vacation, with a tiny bit of work—I might’ve been able to relax. Alas. It was not to be.

Thankfully, Saturday morning was very foggy, and I had a lovely drive back, down 12, through Clifty, to the junction with 45.

Then down 45 to Fayetteville.

I pulled off at Twin Bridges to catch the fog on the river.

I realized I hadn’t shot much with the XA, so I fired off a few frames with it too.

And one of the shots there looked like maybe I could try some of the foreground/background confusion stuff I’m trying to pick up from Rebecca Norris Webb. I didn’t get there, but I still like the shot. I can’t decide if I prefer it in black & white (above) or color.

45 dumped me off near 49 in Fayetteville, and I took the fast way for a bit, then wiggled down through Fort Smith into the back roads of Oklahoma.

I finally started to relax a bit, almost. I paused at Sardis Lake and wandered around awhile, trying to feel something with the camera, but it was not to be.

And then I was home, back to life, back to reality, back to life, back to reality, and not much different, mentally & emotionally, from how I started.


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