Tag Archive | me

Staycations and Use of Time

My current place of employment has some really nice perks for employees. Among them, is a pretty fluid time off policy. However, in order to comply with various state (and in our case, city) ordinances, we also have some things in the handbook that seem to suggest we do not have a fluid time off policy. Like our use-it-or-lose-it vacation time.

We have 40 hours of vacation time that, if I remember correctly, zeroes out and restarts at 40 upon hire-date anniversary. Which means that in mid-July, my vacation time resets at 40 and I have to use that time, or it goes away and resets at 40. And management really doesn’t want us to separate that out. We need to use all 5 days at once. We can wrap them around a weekend, if we want, or we can use them Monday through Friday, but we can’t use them one at a time here and there. That’s what discretionary PTO (personal time-off) requests are for. And that’s where the fluidity enters into play, because as long as you aren’t asking for time off during a black-out period (basically when conventions happen or mandated holidays) then it’s more than likely going to be approved. We also have 40 hours of sick time that front-loads in January. It’s gone when it’s gone, but again, we have PTO to fall back on, plus a variety of other things that could be used (because of the FMLA, for one).

So I knew I had 40 hours of time that I should use, as a block, coming up. And I’ve been feeling vaguely short-tempered occasionally (not necessarily about work, actually – more about some things I can’t control but am still stressing about), and wouldn’t mind taking time off, but I didn’t want to take off a whole week at once. Because hopefully, in December, I’m going to be moving and a chunk of readily available time off would be very useful! But after talking it over with my manager, it was determined that it would be better to ask for PTO in that case, and hurry up and use my time off. So I’ve had a staycation this week.

It’s been interesting. I’ve mostly let myself sleep in. Ridiculously so on Monday.

I made a list Sunday, of things I have been putting off, or just basic chores that we have a hard time getting to on the weekends for one reason or another. I’ve mostly worked through it. There were a few items that I thought about putting on the list and didn’t; mostly because I knew I’d have a hard time accomplishing them and saw no reason to depress myself. But I’m further along that I was afraid I’d be by this time, so I’m happy.

I have a few little things to do tomorrow that are errand related, and some more general housekeeping to do, and I think that I’ll be happy enough with things that I can reward myself with a day-trip to the coast, which was also a goal for the week.

I’ve also been reading a little more, here and there, which is nice. I haven’t finished anything yet, as far as actual books are concerned, but that’s all right. It feels nice to just read. And it’s good practice. Reading is important for writing and I really want to try NaNoWriMo again in November.

Mostly unrelated to the staycation, but coincidentally, I’ve also been playing a lot more of Borderlands 2 with friends, and that has been particularly awesome! I really am glad to finally be doing that more. I like playing with them a lot. So far the only downside seems to be wishing I saw them in person more regularly as well.

So yeah, much as I was stubbornly pouty about being “forced” to have vacation earlier than I wanted (even though I did ultimately choose the dates), I think it’s been worth it so far. Now to keep enjoying the time off through Sunday!

Friends and Family

Recently, I shared an article that an “angry dad” wrote about how the bathroom bills are pointless, and there were scarier things to be afraid of than people who were different than what we might be used to. In fact, the monsters often look Just Like Anyone Else, because that’s how they survive (and frighteningly, often thrive) at being monsters.

An old friend, who is still a cop, took issue with the article, because he felt it was better to have one more law in the arsenal to stop sex offenders than to cater to the 1% that would be harmed. I said that the article was talking about exactly those sex offenders, and how they didn’t have anything to do with transgendered people. He said something flippant about how I’d lost touch with common sense (again) and goodbye, and then blocked me.

It was upsetting. I’d hoped a) that he wanted to protect everyone, and b) that he cared more about hearing my side than just cutting me short after a quick exchange on Facebook. I’d hoped our friendship meant more, I guess. And then, of course, I was mad at myself. I’d already unfollowed (but remained “friends” with) several of our co-workers, for similar reasons. I didn’t like the racism, the misogyny, and the paranoia they were displaying. The rights they were worried about “losing” weren’t rights per se, and often had more to do with having to share them with others.  So I knew that, much as it hurt, it was better to have the abrupt break (I can’t call it a clean one). And, in the hopes of not having to deal with more, I made the choice to cull my friend list a bit more.

I realize that’s weak of me. I stand up for my transgender friends. I stand up for all LGBTQA friends. Some of those friends are more like family to me. If someone jokes about something and it’s beyond the pale, I call them on it … most of the time. I’m still weak and will avoid things if I worry it will cost me my job. Any more though, that’s the only thing stopping me. I don’t always call bosses out on their prejudices. I’m trying to be braver. I’m white, and even though I’m a woman and sometimes wonder about my orientation, I’m always assumed to be straight because I’m married to a straight man. And I’ve always been with straight men. So, I have a set of privileges others don’t that I can use to be brave with as a starting point they can’t.

I’m trying. I still have room for improvement, and it’s sad and scary to discover people I love… loved… are close-minded and willing to trample other people’s rights because those other people are a minority. I will probably lose someone again, to this.

Just like it happens for gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, asexual, and gender queer people every day.

A lack of words…

I’ve not been writing lately.

In part, I’ve been genuinely distracted with things in real life, as it were. In part, it’s a frustrating and busy time of the year for my work. I’m doing accounting work now, and year end is nasty with tax forms and related nonsense. In part, there’s some things going on that are nerve-wracking and yet hopefully exciting. And finally, I’ve had a really annoying head cold that will. Not. Go. AWAY.

Seriously annoyed with the head cold.

NaNoWriMo website keeps sending me update things that are probably useful, but mostly I’m finding them to be irritating.

I’d like to write more this year. I wanted to write more last year, and I did. I’m hoping to continue to improve upon that this year. Last year, I wrote “half” a book, by NaNo standards. Is it any good? Or polished? Meh. No. Not really. But it’s roughly 25k words that did not exist before. I think they’re roughly in the same universe as another thing sitting in my Scrivener app. Maybe up the coast. Not in the same state, definitely, as Curses Used is based in California, and Place Holder is somewhere Pac Northwest-ish. I’m still not sure if it’s northern Oregon or southern Washington. But it feels like the same universe, in the way these things do. I could see the characters of one running into some of the characters in the other and not finding each other strange. At least a few of them might be vaguely familiar to the protagonist in the other, in fact. Which is nice, for world building purposes that I’m being particularly lazy (ie: allowing to simmer in the back of my head) about. So anyway, I’m hoping to perhaps finish Place Holder and give it at least one good editing pass (the current beginning isn’t the beginning so much as a prologue of treading mental waters), or alternately to actually manage a full 50k of a completely new project. That would mean that I’d have potentially 3 projects sitting in Scrivener, in various states of undress by the end of the year, but that’s not all bad.

I’d also like to do more gaming. I used to like some games. I enjoyed Civilization II or III I think. One of the very early ones in the early ’90s. I liked Warcraft, for similar reasons. I didn’t mind kibbitzing on some FPS’s on Xbox and PS2. I actually liked some NES games in college, although I was pretty bad at them. And of course I enjoyed a few arcade style games (and the old classic Atari games). I also liked RPG text based role playing.

I don’t think that last one is something that’s sustainable for me in that form, and I don’t know of any servers, really, that I want to attempt it on again. I’ve got a Steam account, and I’m tinkering with a FPS style (with group options) on rare occasions, and want to get into that more with at least one friend if not more. I keep meaning to give Minecraft another shot and haven’t. (It was VERY FRUSTRATING to begin with. Need to try it on a computer platform instead of a phone iOS platform.) Mostly though, I’m trying not to spend too much money. Some friends and I have a monthly (roughly) RP with Lovecraftian and cartoon themes, that I mostly Skype into. It’s actually kind of cool, with heavy emphasis on puzzling through a story and role play, but there are Fate Core rules, for when we need to do certain things. I enjoy it. I like that on the rare occasions that the stars align, I can drive and hang out with them in person. So I want to keep that up, too.

There are other things, general health things, that I’m trying to improve on also. An odd side effect of the head cold has been that I’ve more or less stopped drinking soda over the last week. I’ll have the equivalent of 12 ounces randomly, but not daily. This means I’ve lost a couple pounds. It’s really the only change. So if I can keep the sodas minimal, and keep the water intake up, and maybe work in some walking (gotten out of the habit) I can perhaps continue that trend. I’ll feel better in general about myself, and I suspect my poor sleep quality will improve. We’ll see.

I did not intend this to be so much of a “goals for the year” post, but it’s turned into one, and I’ve written some good thoughts down. This isn’t a bad thing. But perhaps next time, I’ll try for less stream of conscious and focus a bit more on a topic. Besides the ones above, there’s the usual background cacophony in my head of useless chatter: what do people want from you? what do you want from yourself? why do you have these irrational fears? why worry about things you can’t change? why plan for eventualities that may never occur? should you go and be evaluated for anxiety? (heh.)

Getting to know y/o/u/ me (to steal an apt title)

I haven’t done one of these in WordPress since my initial About page, and since my friend FontFolly did one, and opened it to everyone, I thought I’d participate:

Name: Katrina (also answer to Kat and ‘trina among other nicknames and handles)

Where are you from? Most of the time I say Texas, as I lived there for most of my childhood (from age 5 until age 22). But Oregon is actually getting close to that same time length, as I’ve lived here since 2000 (aside from a year in Georgia), and this feels like home. I’ve also lived in Southern California (as a toddler and an adult; I did not like it as an adult, although what memories I have as a toddler are pretty darn pleasant), Wisconsin, and very briefly, Kentucky. My accent sounds indeterminate with a southern influence, I’m told. That fits in with the Oregon demographic where I live fairly seamlessly.

Favorite colors? Yes, please. I am NOT good at picking favorite colors. Lately, I seem to favor browns and greens and blues with the random coral or dark berry. I love the recent purple swatches I asked my colorist to add to my hair.

Write something in capitals: WTF.

Favorite band / musician: Hm. Again, favorite is a challenge. Good default music for me might be an easier way to phrase that: Frank Sinatra/Dean Martin/Sammy Davis Jr/Bobby Darin. Simon and Garfunkel. Fleetwood Mac. Def Leppard. Stabbing Westward. Pistol Annies. Nickel Creek. Brad Paisley. Poe. P!nk. Just saw a video clip shared by Amanda Palmer of Lauryn Hill singing Nina Simone that was amazing, and makes me want to rediscover her.

Favorite number: I have two favorite numbers. I like the number 13 because it is oddly feared, but I think it looks pretty. Also, I like the fun bits of Halloween, even if I don’t like horror/gore flicks in the least. I like the number 42 because it’s the answer to the ultimate question about Life, The Universe and Everything (although they apparently weren’t sure of the question when Deep Blue gave them the answer). It also is graphically pretty. It also happens to be my current age.

Favorite drink: I like ice cold water with lemon. I like plain iced tea. I also like iced sweet tea, but I’m very picky and if it’s bad it’s horrible. Diet pepsi or diet coke is my default order in a restaurant if I want a soda. Valpolicella, bardolino and merlot wines are all lovely. I also like moscatos and pinot gris, and another white that is currently slipping my memory. I like Glenlivet whisky better than Glenfiddich, although both are good, and before the end of the year I’m going to spoil myself with a bottle older than 12 years.

Tag 8 people you want to know better: Anyone who would like to share, I’d love to read!

What is Love?

I mean, there is so much attributed to the emotion. Songs. Poetry. Bad songs and poetry. Movies. Books. Quotes from little kids that are insightful and kind of ridiculous all at once.

So what is it?

Obviously it’s various things to different people. To me it’s things that might mean nothing to someone else, but between the other being and I do mean something.

Love is recognizing that this article I’m reading might be of interest to my baby sister who is a grown up and teaches math to 10 and 11 year olds.

Love is coming downstairs and gathering things to leave the house for work to realize that my sweetheart took out the garbage because he noticed it was full.

Love is getting a box of chocolates and paper origami from a friend a country away, because she wanted to make me smile.

Love is a text from a friend a state away linking me to a cool art blog because she knew I would think it was cool and she wanted to share.

Love is knowing another friend looks forward to a yearly event as much as I do, because we like going together. It is also sending her small baubles from the event if she can’t make it.

Love is wanting to try lavender soda because a friend I care about loves it, even though I’m not sure I’m brave enough.

Love is a newish boyfriend eating a new (to him) veggie and learning to love it, even though he really doesn’t like veggies.

Love is trying soccer (even though it is scary and triggers all kinds of baggage from being a kid) because I want to spend time with my honey who loves it.

Love is being okay with hearing “I don’t want to do that thing. Please go ahead and do it with another friend.” and going ahead and doing it, and both people being the better for that.

Love is driving 90 miles to mostly hang out, run errands, and do nothing. Because.

Love is stopping to enjoy a cuddle when the cat flips over and outstretches a paw and shows you the underside of his chin and his belly.

Love is keeping the kitchen clean.

Love is when the first person in the shower shifts the towels so the other person’s towel is closest when they get in the shower.

Love is flowers for no reason other than you thought they needed flowers.

Love is pumpkin pie.

Basically, love is paying attention and trying very hard to help with little things to make life better. Love is active listening. Love is communicating your needs and clarifying others’ needs.

Seasonal Depression

It’s about that time again.

I should probably say that when I use the word “depression” for myself I don’t mean the clinical sort. Every once in a while, I debate going to a licensed professional and finding out if I have a mild version, but as I can usually shake myself out of the mood or just wait it out, I haven’t bothered. It costs money and energy that I’d rather spend on other things.

In 2004, in September, I separated from my ex-husband. Our marriage had been in various stages of implosion and explosion for at least 4 years (although, with the power of hindsight, I suspect that it was having problems much longer). My dad was fighting lung cancer that had metastasized and gotten more complex (it got into his larynx, among other things), and somewhere between then and October is when he and mom told us that he was going to back out of his trial program. The benefits were nowhere NEAR outweighing the negative side effects. We also abruptly lost my mom’s youngest sister to a rare form of blood cancer. For us, there was no warning. I’m not clear on how much warning her kids and husband had. She’d felt horrible for years and finally was getting pushier at getting doctors to listen. I went back to see mom and dad in November for Thanksgiving. Dad had a collapse and had to go into the hospital. The next 3 weeks are a bit of a blur, but we finally got him admitted to hospice and home where he finally felt safe leaving us on his birthday, December 16th, 2004. He was 62.

Six years later, 2010, in late fall (I want to say November, but it’s actually blurred and I don’t trust that), mom also chose to check herself into hospice. Mostly because her doctor was honest. He might be able to give her up to a few more months. Maybe longer. But it would hurt and she might spend a lot of it in the hospital. Hospice would allow her to be at home. On Christmas Night, she finally was able to let go. She was 64.

Two years after that, in October, I lost Domino, my cat of 14 years. He was more than just my cat. He was my baby boy. I still tear up sometimes thinking of him. That was 2 years ago.

It isn’t all bad.

I still love the fall, even though it hurts to remember. Some of my best family memories are of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Mom loved the cooler seasons. Dad loved any excuse to be silly and eat food that was probably too rich for him but oh-so-delicious. I’ve inherited all of that.

We adopted our two current cats right after the Thanksgiving after losing Domino. I thought it was much too early, but I was also probably worrying Terry a bit with being so sad and he missed having someone furry and welcoming in the house. We were only going to get one, and found a shelter participating in a Black Friday event at a pet store in town. We picked out Shadow, and took her to the vet, who gave her a relatively clear bill (she had the feline equivalent of kennel cough), but strongly suggested another kitten about the same age to help keep her company and to socialize. So we went back out the next day, and found Phoenix. After a week or so of separation to allow their individual upper respiratory sicknesses to get through their systems, they got to meet each other and actually began to get along much more quickly than I expected.

And I can’t forget that my sweet hubby proposed to me on New Year’s eve.

So there are good things to look forward to, most definitely, but I can very much empathize with people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder as well as depression. I have a much higher likelihood of wanting to hide somewhere cozy with a book during this time of year. And for the last few years, that’s been more about escaping than just enjoying whatever I might be reading for what it is. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I feel much better, even if the book makes me cry (The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman did). In its own way, that’s a welcome catharsis from the greyed out feeling I experience a lot of the time. Sometimes I can forget. Or keep a mask firmly in place.

But it’s part of the season now.

Tattoos

I didn’t expect my first tattoo to be as grounding as it was.

I’d wanted to get some kind of tattoo for years before I actually did. And by “years” I mean over a decade. I tend to overthink things a bit, although as I saw it, any ink I had put on me was going to have to be treated as if it couldn’t be removed. Back then, tattoos were less removed than covered up. So I’d gone through quite a few designs before I came up with the one I eventually got. Some were discarded because they came from a different time and place in my life, or reminded me of someone I didn’t necessarily want given such a permanent place in my day to day life.

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