Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Burden of an Architect

It's time -- time for an update on my projects, my workload, and my state of mind.

I'll start with the last: My state of mind. Mine has not been a healthy mind. It has even been a troubled mind. Why? I thought it was because of the number of projects I was carrying and the resultant workload. You see, everything is One Big Kahuna with me --> lotsa projects --> lotsa workload --> troubled mind --> stress. Everything inside my brain-like brain is tied together with invisible threads that create real or artificial complexities and stresses in my life. And none of it is healthy.

Yeah, I've been riding my bike like a maniac. Emphasis on maniac. Distraction is good, to a point. But those kinds of distractions only helped divert focus away from the major points of stress in my life that I really should have been addressing better.

So what were those major points of stress? Like I said, I thought it was the overall workload. But it was actually a bit more simple than that. There was really ONE project that was causing all my mental constipation -- the Death To the Great Room Project.

If you will recall, two months back I signed a contract with a nice couple to slice their great room into a living room on the first floor and a new master bedroom/bathroom on the second floor. I wrote about it here. I was excited by the idea of doing a "pop-top" to their great room, which wasn't very great to start with. A pop-top is where one tears the roof off a house and adds a second story of new space. Very messy. Very challenging. Very disruptive. Very expensive. But one resorts to such extreme measures of expanding vertically in lieu of expanding outward. I proposed the idea of dividing a large, uncomfortable, useless, and difficult to heat space into two spaces. Not bad, I figured, patting myself on the back. I knew that the structural issues of providing support for a new floor upstairs would be costly and difficult. But I was excited by the new paradigm of Death to the Great Room! If I could do it here, I could do it anywhere!

But somewhere along the line, the project lost its lustre for me. It became hard work in the same soul-crushing way that serving as President of the United States can lose a certain appeal for certain frat boy types as the work and stresses overwhelm the Thrill of Absolute Power.

Everything else fell to the wayside for me. Deadlines began to slip for all of my projects. Excuses began to get creative and convoluted. I even began to lose sleep. And when I lose sleep, you know that something poisonously saccharine has invaded Howard's land of purest sugar.

Until yesterday afternoon... when the clients of Death to the Great Room contacted me and said that they had reconsidered. They no longer want to pursue the idea of adding interior square footage to their existing house. They now want to build a whole other house separated from the original, one to be used as Home Office. But they don't want to start on it right away. Maybe in another year or so, they said. So could I please figure out how much they owe me and send them a bill?

Hallelujah! I couldn't be more pleased by this turn of events. My other projects: The million dollar mansion, my foothills hippy house with the miserable floor plans soon to be joyous and wondrous, and two new and exciting projects (which I haven't mentioned here yet) will all now receive my loving attention.

The burden has been lifted. Long live the architect's burden!


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