General / 30 August 2018

I hate commuting.  I think my disdain for it was initially implanted in my brain when I was younger and reinforced while in college. Much of my feelings on commuting trace back to my father. He drove about two hours to work one way for a little over 12 years. He would wake up at little before 2 AM and leave by an exact time in the morning, I want to say it was 2:12 or something like that. He would arrive at 4 and sleep in his car until 6:30 or 7AM when he would go in to the plant, have some breakfast, and start the day. He would leave around 4 PM and get home at 6PM most days. He chose to to do this exact version of his commute so he could drive slow and avoid cars on the road. He is a strange person as he clearly valued car longevity over his personal time.

I did this commute for a summer when I was in college. I worked a summer job at his plant and rode up with him most of the time to save money. On the rare occasions I drove up (usually if I overslept) I would do that drive in no longer than an hour and ten minutes during peak traffic. While his version of that drive was insane, an hour and ten minutes was a long time to lose. I decided I was never going to do that again.

Until I did.

Prior to Dreamline, my worst commute as a post college adult was from Providence to Boston. I lived with my buddy Vic for a few months in 2012 and drove up to Boston for work. On a good day, I got up there in 45 minutes, which wasn’t bad. On a bad day, it took 2 hours. It sucked, and not just because of the time sink. Having only lived in small to medium sized towns where everyone is nice and traffic was minimal, driving in New England was a huge shift that took some time to get used to. Until I was acclimated to it, driving on 95 with a bunch of angry New England natives was quite stressful.

I eventually settled in Natick, where my commute was a much nicer 20 minutes most days.

What I am doing now is a mix of old and new. I don’t have a car, so I am reliant on SEPTA (South Eastern Pennsylvania Transit Association, the Public Transit for Philly and parts of the surrounding suburbs) to get me to work. I have a regional rail train I need to catch at 8:10, so I often rush through my mornings. Much like my father, my commute is about 2 hours long one way. This significantly cuts into my daily life and trying to squeeze everything I want to accomplish in is an exercise in time management extremes.

  • I wake up at 4:25 to let out the puppy an hydrate with water and coffee. Summer is a true puppy so sometimes she’s difficult.
  • I leave for the gym at 4:50 or so.
  • I wrap up my workout by 6. This is a bigger sacrifice than you may think. I am known for long, exhausting gym sessions.
  • I walk the dog from 6:10-6:30 although Summer, our dog, often makes it take longer.
  • From 6:45(ish)-7:30 I squeeze in feeding the dog, making and eating breakfast, shit or shave, shower, getting dressed and making lunch if I didn’t prep for the week.
    • Usually something is sacrificed in the morning. Today it was lunch and shaving.
  • If I’m out the door at 7:30 I am usually OK for the 7:34 bus, although some days I am finding I need a backup plan. So far, they involve sprints to other buses.

My return ride is simpler, but I am often exhausted (I’ve been up for 13.5 hours by this point) and just want to be home.

  • Leave work at 6.
  • Train leaves at 6:26
  • Catch the 7:21 if I’m lucky or the 7:35 most likely.
  • Walk the last 10 minutes and I’m home at 8.
  • In bed by 9:30 (unfortunately it’s often past 10) for hopefully 7 hours of sleep.
    • I sometimes have trouble sleeping during the week so it’s more like 5-6 hours most days.

There are a few pros to using SEPTA. Once I’m where I need to be, I can relax. The train ride is long and smooth, so I can write (where do you think I’m doing this post), draw, game on my Vita, or sleep.

I’ve slept too much on the train lately, which is feeding into my discontent with the commute. Summer is exhausting. She was on my last nerve today and caused me to be just late enough to miss my bus. My in the moment back up plan was to catch the 33 to 7th street and… sprint a block to catch up to a different 47 bus. I made the train at least.

I’m quite frustrated with my commute as a whole. I truly miss the time I now no longer have. This manifests itself most in my personal projects. I am very behind schedule with my asset kits. I don’t have the required hardware to work on it during my commute and I am either burnt out or tied up with personal priorities during the weekend. Not being able to work in that way is feeding into my displeasure and negative thoughts during the week.

However, it’s not like me to resign myself to fate and I’m going to make this commute work FOR ME damnit.

Finding a way to turn my commute into productive time is a top priority. I can reclaim over 20 hours a week on my commuter rail rides alone, and if there are delays or other issues, that’s more time for me to work and less lost time to games or zoning out. In order to be set up for the next few years, groundwork needs to be laid ASAP. This means I need to get back on track with portfolio work, asset kits, and writing on proper tools. I like my Android tablet, but it’s from 2013 and incapable of running design software. I’m amazed it still works frankly.

Enter the 2 in 1 Notebook.

I’m waiting for my W-2 employment to be confirmed (I should be converted from hourly contract to salaried employee shortly), and once it is, I will be purchasing a fairly powerful 2 in 1 Notebook that has support for the Wacom Bamboo Ink platform. This will allow me to work on the train in all manner of programs: Maya, Zbrush, Substance, and more. I can spend my commute working on my assets and portfolio. Additionally, I’ll be able to work on my blog in a more productive way. I envision this device being a powerful supplement to my desktop and a business investment allowing me to work from coffee shops and other locations in the future. I want to get back into the education space in a small way (bet it a class at Drexel or teaching a small group of students every month or two) and being able to meet in person at a coffee shop and still work will help greatly. I want to get back into education in some small way and being able to meet students and work with them out in the world is a big bonus for them.

Or a bar, I don’t think I would cater specifically to under 21 year olds.

An added bonus: If I take a contract for a fixed duration in the future (similar to my work with Bluepoint in 2017), I won’t have to lug my desktop with me.

There are many different ways this piece of equipment will enable me to claw back some of my time spent commuting. If I can get those 20 hours of work time back a week, I think I’ll feel even better about where I am and where I plan to be.