REPORT A PROBLEM
It is rather like passing a car crash on the other side of the highway. You don't really want to look, but once you do, you can't look away. Except this crash is dragging us all down. It is becoming that 80-car pileup you hear about in bad weather, where everyone is caught unawares, and there's no time to react before you are swept up in the mayhem. Every day there is a new executive order, it seems. I thought Republicans were against the concept of an executive order - but now it is in their interest, it is fine?
Victory. After nearly six weeks, there is finally resolution on the latest dispute on the government contract that has been a bother and a disappointment since the very beginning, fifteen months ago. Despite their massive ignorance about the domain, we accepted multiple redirections in the project approach, which all but gutted what we originally proposed. The last request was a step too far and I dug in my heels. I was absolutely read -- almost hoping -- to walk away from the contract. Today, the adult on the other side weighed in and capitulated: we are free to do what we proposed.
Friday nights are the prize for all of us working stiffs. For some people, it is the night out, dinner, drinks, a movie, whatever. Fifteen years ago, my Friday night special was dinner out by myself, at a place that really took care of me. Now, it is sitting around a table, in an uncomfortable chair, knitting in fellowship with a group of women of a similar age. I wish we had comfortable seating, but for three hours a week, I endure. With iced tea rather than good chai, or a glass of red wine. These are FWP for sure.
I awake with the bittersweet memory of a dream I had in the wee small hours of the morning, of my beloved Grandpa talking to me. Now, I can't remember what the topic was or where we were, but it was a current conversation, with the me of now, a married woman. But Grandpa died thirteen years ago - he never saw me married. And yet the conversation was real, it was Grandpa's words and wisdom. I don't know or care if it was his spirit or just my fevered imagination working overtime. Happy Birthday Grandpa - I love and miss you.
Problems sometimes sneak up on you. Everything looks good from the in-progress perspective, which you know is off - things are not complete. But it can't hang together properly while it is still not all there. So you look at it, poke at it, adjust it, and say to yourself - there's nothing definitely wrong, so I'll keep going. It is only when you are done that it becomes evident that all the pieces don't fit together, or they fit together but don't fit you. And so you breathe, and take a few minutes to understand and document your improvement opportunities.
Underwhelmed. I think that is the word of the month. At least for work. I was underwhelmed. It sounds a bit better than disappointed. And is definitely a better option than to say what was in my heart. I am sure my first similar effort was likewise atrocious. But I don't really know how to mentor someone with experience, who I expect should know how to do this. I am better with someone who I know hasn't a clue, a novice who gives it the old college try. Even if they come up dreadfully short, you started with low expectations.
I can feel the headache coming. My eyes are aching. I have an odd jitter inside me. Breathe. I try to be calm all day, but when a discussion at the office turns emotional I know that I will probably not be able to hold the headache at bay. I eat carefully. I stay hydrated. I am tired but not relaxed at bedtime, so I take bath - a long, relaxing soak. And even then, I can feel the headache peeking out around my eyes. I take out my contacts, take some meds and go to bed, hoping for the best.
Stabbing eyeballs. That's what this headache was. Not the dull ache, or band around my head. Stabbing eyeballs. I don't get out of bed until nearly noon. I don't even consider working on anything serious. I can't read. I can't watch TV. I knit a cowl, with handspun from out east. By day's end, the cowl is done, and I decide I don't like it the way it is -- the way the pattern specifies. The beautiful thing about knitting is that you can always frog it and start over. Which may be a necessity after a day of migraine knitting.
The snow outside is coming down hard in big flakes - it is fierce display of winter. Boo is utterly fascinated with the white bits drifting, floating and swirling around outside and spends most of the day looking out the windows. I feel compelled to work, to put in time and make progress. But I am wary about a bounce-back migraine, so I do take a few breaks. By the time the snow stops enough for us to go outside and clear the way, it is the middle of the afternoon. Two hours later, we come back inside and collapse.
Ice is everywhere today, and I chose not to partake of it. I stayed home and worked and worked and worked. I found a number of bugs in the new version of the software we're supposed to deliver by the end of the month. I did not think about why I was the one to find them, rather than QA. I had a knit nite evening on the couch. After completing the snow-day cowl, I wasn't happy with it, so I frogged it and started over. It seemed rather disappointing if appropriate end to this day of do-overs.
The sidebar project is so much more interesting to me now than the daily gig. I can see so many pathways, new things to do. But I'm still pretty sure I don't really want to teach. Not as my primary focus. I don't think there's another option available at this institution. There's not another institution around that's looking for my skills. How do I create my own job? Doing what I want to do? Because I am thinking about it more and more: it is time to stop killing myself for the job I thought of as a temporary gig.
Of course, it was another grey day. It was only supposed to be an inch of wintry mix, if that. And all over by noon. Yet once again, the weather forecast is completely, utterly wrong. It is more than an inch of fresh snow, compounded by freezing rain before and after. It continued past noon. We never got the rain that was supposed to wash it away at the end of the day. So now there's a layer of ice over everything again. My disgust with the weather is aggravated by the fact I spent so of this weekend working.
Family secrets. Everyone has them, in one flavor or another. And sometimes, they serve a real purpose, like a surprise holiday visit from someone. Sometimes, it stems from embarrassment or shame that someone's in a rehab facility because of drugs. Or that a child was adopted. Whatever. And some people are more private than others, that is true. But. Not being willing to share facts of illness with a wife or daughter? When that individual is your emergency contact - someone you supposedly trust with your life? Clearly, you don't trust me with your life because you're not sharing relevant details.
Head down, all day at the office, I missed out on some of the better aspects of today. This is the third - or is it fourth - February in a row with a stupidly, insane work schedule. The daily list on my whiteboard isn't shrinking, it is growing. But I leave the office on time, and get home to a very nice dinner at home, no cooking required by either of us: he bought the dinner and I bought the dessert. Boo brought the after-dinner snuggle on the couch. But I found PBS Ruby Ridge documentary an odd programming choice.
The first day working in isolation, trying so hard to just motor through the pile of work. I won't be back in the office for nearly a week now, and there's no break in sight, not for me, never mind the holiday. Work is the only thing on my mind these days, I can't really think of anything else. I have to manually disengage in order to have a break, to think of something else to go to sleep at night. And yes, I am waking up at 4 AM thinking about work. I swore I was so over this.
I am shocked by her performance. More appropriately, by her utter lack of performance. Once again, the assignment was made clear, and yet, she's unprepared. She misunderstood. My flabber is ghasted. Utterly. I am so confused about the whole thing that I end up calling mom to see if I am looking at this the wrong way or what. I am not an educator. I have spent a lot of time around educators. I am not a kid, and I wasn't a normal kid when I was one. So my perspective has a lot of room to be way off.
It is uncharitable and unkind, but I do wish she would just go away. She never.shuts.up. Never. From the moment she walks in and sits down, until she (or you!) leaves. And her conversation never strays from one of three topics: her travel, her sale finds and charity knitting. I know I am not the only one who feels this way. I was tired. I wanted some friendly community tonight. But three of the regulars I most wanted to see were not there. So I left early because I could not take her non-stop yammering any longer.
Sunshine. It peeks around the corner today, playing hide and seek. But there is some blue sky showing when it does peek out. Both are very welcome, it feels like we haven't had both in weeks. It has been a very grey year so far, which is rather unusual. Although, maybe it is more usual for the north shore - I know that winters on the south shore were fairly sunny. I'm not sure I yet know what a normal winter looks like here. There's been less sun this year than the last four, but also much less snow. So far.
Although the list of stuff to do - the Must-Do list - is so very long hat it won't really all get done this weekend. I am taking the time to wake up slowly, so that I have some sense that it is a weekend, even if I don't get a real break. It is a gloriously warm day, so we have windows and doors open. I was so busy doing things - chores, cleaning, and the inevitable office work - I hardly saw the beautiful day. This is how I don't want to live - feeling guilty if I knit after 10 PM.
I am tempted, deeply tempted to buy another sweater quantity of yarn. The memory of the deep, mysterious blues and purples in the yarn, echoes from the universe, calls to me. The big, squishy soft yarn was a delight. But do I need another sweater from fat, squishy yarn? Maybe.... I could do a vest? But I'm dreaming of a sweater that feels like a soft, warm hug. And this yarn is that in a minute. With the right pattern. The truth is, I don't have time right now to finish the one sweater that is still on the needles.
Seeing the shot of Rockefeller Center at the end of the national news broadcast, I am reminded suddenly of the fact that to many who watch the news, that is not a reality. That is a pretty picture on the TV, but not someplace they have ever or will ever see. It is a TV set. And in that split second, the city calls to me. I miss the city that was. I am not at all sure about the city that is. I want to go play in the city, but for now, I am trapped here by work.
Thoughts of the city still lingered in the early morning. Remembering when Peter and.. whatshishame, I forgot, came to visit Tanya our first year in the city. Which led to thoughts of Germany. Of living in Bonn, that year "in between". I realize my memory of events from thirty years ago is incomplete. I remember going for the hearty soup lunches, biking down to watch Koyaanisqaatsi, and playing in the orchestra. I remember Nadir and Nadir - and pray they stayed in Germany, did not return to Iraq. I have forgotten how I met Christos, and the feeling of not belonging.
Wow, I'm underwhelmed again, to say the very least. How is it that they are still so unprepared? Oh, wait, I know: they're academics. They're not really teachers, just because they have classroom experience. I don't really know how they are going to pull this off, and I'm resigning myself to the project having inconclusive results. Even if we delay the first session with students for a month or two, I don't have much faith in their ability to execute the basic program. I'm in a downward spiral now about the whole thing - it is the icing on the cake.
After the way this week has gone, I was delighted - beyond words - that she who never shuts up was not at knit nite tonight. Don't get me wrong, there was little interesting conversation tonight - because I'm a female who has little interest in babies and birthing, and trading stories of who had it worst. I did finishing work tonight, not knitting. I am trying so hard to finish this sweater before the end of the month. I am so close, but with the crap ton of work piled on me, it still seems probable that I will not finish it.
This was not really a day of rest and relaxation. Frankly, I was too tired to do that. I managed to do laundry, and to knit a bit. I watched a bit bad television. But I was basically useless today, rather unproductive as I tried desperately to recharge my batteries. I planted seeds, that was productive and almost an act of faith, that I will survive the next month and that spring will be waiting for me on the other side. Because based on how I felt today, I'm really not so sure that is how things will turn out.
A day spent not focusing on a difficulty can make it more tolerable. Which is not to say I am feeling less stressed or uncertain. Just that my nerves don't feel like they're quite so shredded, that I'm not quite such a bloody mess today. I finally finished that thing which should have been finished a week ago, but wasn't. I'm relatively happy with it. Unfortunately, being done with this one thing doesn't really mean I'm closer to Being Done, it just means I'm not quite So Far Behind anymore. Improvements were deployed to production - after I was finished. Huzzah!
So that's how things work. It seems a shame that it has taken me quite literally nine years to figure it out. I wish I was special enough I could refuse to work with certain people. And be allowed to refuse. The way I see it, that means there's no point in my trying to win new projects. There's really no need for me to push myself at all, because there won't be anyone to work on projects. It was silly of me to have spent so many hours working so hard in the past, now I think about it.
Altogether an enlightening day. But not in a good way. No, I did not quit today, but my days at this job are numbered, a finite quantity. The unwillingness of management to actually manage is appalling. There may be an interesting diversion in the short term that could provide new opportunities. But ultimately, it is clear that this is not where I want to be any longer. The goal now is to figure out: am I looking for something else for the next ten years, or am I retiring early and we relocate somewhere with a lower cost of living?
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