Monday, September 06, 2004

Get a Life!!!

Get a Life!

I have no life. And if you find yourself reading my columns late at night or on weekends, or more than once, I suspect you don’t either. There is something special about people who work with information technology. There are fewer structures in what we do, when we do and from where. We work from home, on the road, from our Blackberries and Palm Pilots. We use wireless connections in the airport lounges, at StarBucks and in hotel lobbies. We are always “on” and never fully “off.”

My best friends are virtual. Many of my relationships started that way too. I shop online, browse online and sell my leftover stuff online. I share my thoughts in blogs and am even writing that long promised cyber-suspense novel online in a blog ( I make dinner arrangements with my children, share driving directions with my long lost relatives and book restaurant reservations and confirm the other guests all…you’ve got it…online too!

So, when I decided that I had no life and wanted to get one, where did I turn? To the Internet, of course. I started the way I always do, using my Google toolbar. I put in “fun + things to do + New Jersey.” Not much came up, so I thought I’d drill down a bit. I’ve always wanted to learn to kayak. (Although the thought of an Eskimo-roll makes my stomach ache.) So, I searched for “Kayak + New Jersey.” But the locations were too far from home. Then I thought – “Swingdancing!” (I wasn’t exactly sure what that entailed, but that and salsa dancing sounded like fun.) But I ended up with several Fred Astaire studios. (Not quite what I had in mind.)

I went down the list of things I wanted to do “someday” using my Frankin Covey Plan Plus (for Outlook). That included pottery lessons, whitewater raft trips and floats, health spas with ginger scrubs, anyplace with a waterfall, cruises on the Windstar and exotic vacations (preferably with spas and ginger scrubs, waterfalls, pottery lessons and whitewater kayaking).

I don’t ask for much. I found a website where the person prides himself in helping others have fun. I e-mailed him and he took pity on me, and sent me some jokes. This wasn’t exactly my idea of getting a life either. I sat on for hours on end, clicking on one exotic luxury vacation auction after another. But between my speaking engagements, my friend’s wedding, and consulting obligations I couldn’t figure out how to actually take the exotic vacations I couldn’t afford anyway. I found a fake excel spreadsheet designed as a screen saver to fool your boss into thinking you are working. But since I work from home, and my kids don’t really care if I have an excel spreadsheet on my screen, that wasn’t as much fun as I thought it might be.

I surfed Amazon for awhile, and checked out everything in my gold treasure chest, passing (as always) on everything. Then using my eBay toolbar (which I couple with my Google one) I searched for arbors, fencing and a firepit. I was sure that what was missing in my life was a big backyard oasis with friends sitting around toasting marshmallows for s’mores. (You can’t get the Girl Scout out of the girl, I guess.) Instead I bought a hot tub at a great price delivered. Now for sure I couldn’t afford the exotic trips I was eyeing at LuxuryLink but invisioned lots of friends coming over and toasting each other with cold champagne in the hot bubbling water and laughing. (I had to have them toasting with champagne since marshmallows were now out of the question because I couldn’t afford the fire pit anymore.)

The hot tub looks very inviting as I sit at my computer in my home office every night. And I fully intend to strip off my Internet-umbilical cord and everything else to sit in it sometime. My only reservations are that I don’t drink, my kids would freak out if they knew I ever used the hot tub sans bathing suit and most of my friends are in England, or New Zealand, or Canada, or San Francisco or Hong Kong or Bulgaria or India. And the commute, even for a terrific hot tub experience with me is a bit long. And they wouldn’t have any idea what a s’more was, and even if they did, wouldn’t be caught dead eating one. And they don’t swing dance or salsa, although my virtual friends from Seattle do kayak!

I won’t give up though. I found a website today called, and have my eye on a hot air ballooning trip and a float down the Delaware. I can picture myself coming home afterwards and sitting in my hot tub talking about the day with my friends, over a glass of cold champagne. Or maybe rowing out to my overwater bura in Fiji or flying in on a sea-plane to that wilderness lodge in western Canada. As long as they have wireless water-proof connections so I can stay in touch with my friends and check my e-mail.

I’ll record it all in my new Palm T3, and save the urls on my Blackberry and keep the list up-to-date in my PlanPlus interface (which I synchronize with my desktop, laptop and my T3). Because someday, I’m going to get a life and I need to be prepared.