On any other site, that title would get me arrested. Or increase the hits on My Space. But I digress...

In preparation for the brand new computer that arrived at Casa Staring this week, I had to go over to my ancient Mac (a G3 with the "e doesn't work" keyboard) and get all my personal stuff off the hard drive.

That's when I realized that the CD drive on it is read-only. ;)

So I found a box of floppies (our main computer does have a floppy drive, the DH insisted on it since we hang onto everything) and wondered how many more floppies I'd need for all the awesome stuff that had been sitting there. Most of it dates back to 2001 or so, which is when I regularly used the machine for work and not playing a neat game called Snood.

To prepare myself, I selected a number of CDs to play in the background: RoskstarINXS (performances selected from the show), ABBA Gold (just because) and The Best of Funk (a compilation album with a bit of everything).

What happened next was an electronic journey through a period of my life when I last worked full time for a job I had a true passion for: managing advertising and design projects.

Yeah, you read that correctly: management. Not writing, not creating, but managing. Ugh. What was I thinking?

Then I took a look through the 3,283 documents sitting on the hard drive (I took a lot of work home with me back then) and realized that it might not have been the job itself that loved. It was the fact that this company (that went under in 2001) was the first place that not only accepted me and my wild and wacky ways, they encouraged me to harness that energy and become more productive with it.

Former employers had always insisted that I be "more professional", "more logical" and stick to certain parameters when communicating. (Like don't strangle the account reps and tease designers when they get all whiny.) At ICE, they welcomed laughter, new ideas and would ask for input from the entire team, not just the suits or creative directors. This was the first place where, in a written review, I was instructed to "pay more attention to your gut instincts, as they are right 98% of the time."


This was also a place where working until 9 p.m. was the norm. And where exhaustion was rewarded with meals ordered in, cab chits for rides home and, in my case, an office that had a patio so I could take frequent smoke breaks without losing productivity.

That was when I had a pack-and-a-half-a-day habit. I don't think I ate anything then either.

Just so you know, I've been smoke free for over five years now and, much to my chagrin, I really love food. ;)

So when I had to go through all of these documents from my past, I was nervous. Each document represented a time when my priorities and goals were completely different when compared to the ones I have now. Would I like what I found? Would I recognize myself in any of these items?

The answer was a resounding yes. While the budgets, status reports and paper trails got chucked, the brainstorming session reports, the collaborative project pieces and the fun song parodies I did for fellow employees were copied onto floppies so that I may dig them up and refer to them again...even though I probably won't.

What I thought would take me an entire afternoon lasted only 45 minutes. The over 3,000 files were whittled down to a mere 72--and fit neatly onto 3 little floppies.

It made me miss the good times of the past, but it also made me realize how much fuller the life is that I have today. Working like a dog, no matter how good the money, just doesn't add up in the long run. You need to have time for family, friends and snack foods.