What can I say? My schedule and regularity pretty much go out the window when I'm back Stateside and trying to cram a couple months worth of social life into a couple weeks. Also, it's also very tiring when I'm at work and I mostly just want to rest and rest and then rest some more when I am back.
For all practical purposes, I was away for eight weeks before coming back right before New Year's Eve. I am increasingly understanding of the 7x3 rotation and why seven weeks is more than enough time in a camp. Amusingly enough, I'm going to try and stretch my coming rotation out as much as possible, but I think it will still result in missing some social engagements in April/May. However, we've had some personnel changes and I'm not sure what the schedule is going to look like now and how much accommodation is possible. My time in Turkmenistan might actually be easier to bear if I was still working in the field and getting out of the office more. Instead, it's room, work, room, work, repeat, etc. Additionally, there's no such thing as a properly staffed location in this company. Either we have too many and need to fire or transfer people or we have too few and don't necessarily need to hire, but instead need to get more out of the people we currently have. Combined with the relatively high-stress nature of the business where the omnipresent sense of time equating to money (except for the state companies!), the feeling that the next mistake could very well be your last with your employer, and that you're living in what is essentially a metal box for seven weeks can really drive you a bit batty. On some level, you have to, well, I don't want to say "not care", but you do need to disengage and draw some boundaries.
Living at the camp, the lines that most people think of when it comes to work/life balance and separation really don't exist. Everything there is essentially work and that constant grind is what is so taxing. It is also ultimately unhelpful and counter-productive if some boundaries are not staked out. I can tell when I'm not productive. More importantly, I can tell when fatigue is setting in because fatigue largely transmutes itself into apathy with me. But the boundary drawing is left to everyone to figure out on their own and it's admittedly something I'm pretty terrible at and for those who have had to put up with that fact, I'm sorry. Being back this time, and partially pulled along by some work computer issues, helped me at least put a first stake in figuring out those boundaries.
This time around, I did relatively little work at home. One could argue I did almost no work, which is sort of the point of days off. I replied to just enough e-mails and filled out enough forms and spreadsheets to avert what I hope are any serious issues. It felt good to not work, but the creeping worry is always there since regardless of how things are supposed to be, it's my mess to deal with when I get back so one eye is always trying to keep a lookout. Still, I stayed busy with plenty that was not work this time around and I'm very happy about that. I had something to do or someone to see almost every day I was in town and that's a good sign. I want to keep staking out some more, well, stakes, until I have boundaries setup between work and everything else. Let's see how that goes while I'm away, which starts in a couple hours. Until then, I'm out until probably late March or early April.