Tag Archive | work

Part of my brain is singing LA-LA-LA-LA-LA at the other part…

Which is somewhat like Scalzi‘s “Can’t Brain Today” except I can brain, I’m just tired and my focus needs more focus.

My brain is adapting. And that’s fine. I’m … basically letting it problem and puzzle solve. I’m still not quite to terms with my job title. I feel like accounting tech just isn’t quite accurate. But I’m definitely in accounting. I just also dig in programs that are only tangentially related to the accounting part of the job. I like it. I like the boring repetitive stuff because it’s extremely satisfying when it all clicks and voila you can see the pretty picture and it works and people get paid (us, them, whichever, usually someone gets paid when all the things click into place). The part where I dig into stuff to try to figure out how it works is also useful and fun. So that’s nice.

Except.

I’m so tired and wrung out when I get home that I don’t know what I want. I get home, I get the mail, I do a few quick chores, I change clothes, I eat, I curl up on the couch and … everything sort of stutters and then hiccups and then tries to continue. I don’t often want to watch TV (the cable box is currently unplugged and the TV is off). I may or may not have energy to play with the cats (today I snuggled and play wrestled before/after putting their food out, but I haven’t gotten out any zippy toys yet tonight). I don’t feel like I have the energy to write (I’m making myself write a blog about not blogging in order to stretch this muscle). I sometimes get distracted and don’t finish small chores (I just remembered the sink is full of soapy water).

*ahem* The sink was full of soapy water. The kitchen is cleaner now.

But this illustrates my point. I will start things and then midway through a project I will remember another project that is either equal in priority or higher and veer off. I mostly manage to resist lower priority things if I’m the only one thinking of them. But my priority sorting does get a teeny bit suspect, as well. There are a number of projects that I should really do. At least one major project (with a few subsets) would result in day to day life being easier, I suspect. But it’s a big project, and my body will hurt if I do it, and my heart might hurt if I do it, and so I keep shoving it down the chain of prioritized tasks. On nights like today? Psh. That task flickers in on my radar only as an item I should feel guilty for not having finished months and months ago.

The advantage tonight to having the cable box off (and to my sweetheart refereeing a soccer match) is that there is one less distraction. One less thing to stop me from trying to do something marginally creative.

I don’t even remember now the path my brain took to get there, but I remembered this past Saturday with friends, when Font Folly teased Zork Fox about needing to write 1,000 words before he would accept his Skill Point distribution on his character sheet.* The point was, as we were all chattering in between doing other things and tinkering with our character sheets, setting up, locating dice, and making sure we had beverages accessible, was to just sit down and do the art thing. And sometimes, switching things up to be opposite or just slightly different from normal might help. But mostly, just actually sitting down and writing or drawing or whatever the task was. Just that act was enough to sort of get something out.

It might be crap. It might not be. It might not be what you really wanted to write or draw. I drew a portrait of a cute girl and a horse that day. The horse was on purpose. The girl was because I started moving the pencil and got a girl’s face. That happens a lot. Probably because one of my default doodles is an eye. I went on to try to work on a tattoo design of theater masks and it completely imploded. I stopped before I got too angry, because I wanted to enjoy the gaming. And I’d gotten two drawings out before I started failing at what I wanted to draw. So I’m still calling it a win.

And now, today, I’ve written just under 900 words. That’s not amazing. If I were writing a book though, and shooting for 1,000 words a day, I’d be at just under 90% of goal. So it’s not bad, either. I have to keep trying to maintain the positive outlook, and just keep doing. Art. Writing. Crochet. Whatever it is, I need to keep working the creative part of my brain; so that when the problem solving part is so exhausted that the rest has to compensate for it having had a dramatic faint in the drawing room of my skull, the creative bit can still come out and play a little bit.

*We were gaming. It was awesome. I hardly ever get to do that in person and it was so nice to see everyone and give and get hugs. Plus I dragged a sister along, which was equally excellent.

Job Changes

In my previous job, I was an “administrative assistant”. That was a little bit of a lie. I mean, I was. I also did the occasional executive and personal assisting. I also did general front desk receptionist work, which included catching the phones and dealing with mail (incoming and outgoing). I was also a little bit human resources and a lot bookkeeping, because we had downsized so much. I also did the occasional bit of technical support for software. And I was in the process of learning weird network junk because I was the one around to do it.

In my new job, I’m an “accounting clerk/tech”. (Depending on what we’re doing, we either say tech or clerk.) I took a bit of an hourly pay cut to take the job, except that I also am technically salaried now. And I have insurance benefits (medical, pharmaceutical, dental and vision discount). And I have a week paid vacation. And assuming it’s a good month/year, I have a chance of bonus type things (including a trip with the whole company and plus one of choice). So really, it’s going to work out to be slightly more than I was making. I won’t have to be paying for my own medical/pharmaceutical insurance out of pocket. I will be paying a portion of it, but much less out of pocket. So, overall, fiscally, it just made sense.

I report, in the main, to one person now. And then I have 3 other bosses (the owners of the company, only 2 of which are ever actually in office). I’m her assistant. It finally occurred to me today that I’ve been continuing some “personal assistant” habits that I really don’t need to do. She doesn’t need managed in those ways. (There are other ways that I do personal assisting that are useful, but they have more to do with leaving a certain part of my brain on permanent record mode, so that when she asks “what did we do about X?” I can actually answer, even if it’s not something I specifically have assigned to my task list.) In general, we work as a team, splitting the work. She is also HR, but at the moment, we’re keeping me confined to accounting duties – mostly payable and receivable.

It’s requiring the unlearning of some previously useful habits.

In general, I really like the people I’m working with. A lot of them make me feel old. I’m somewhere between 10 and 14 years older than most of the people in our office. My boss is actually 8 days younger. One of the owners is within a year or so of our age. But everyone else is much younger. It’s a young company, only a few years old.

Sometimes, I can’t tell if various personality clashes are because they’re younger, or inexperienced, or if I’m set in my ways and opinions of what particular job duties are covered by specific positions and professional levels. I’m discovering that lately, I have an extremely low threshold for patience with regard to someone being rude. Where normally I might stop and think “perhaps they don’t know any better, they’re so young” now I really tend to be disgusted and frustrated that co-worker represents a company I work for.

So, I find myself actually taking breaks. For one thing, it’s encouraged that we take our lunches away, and that we take breaks (even if they’re just “smoke” breaks for a few minutes out doors). Our office is across the street from a bike path that runs along a river between multiple parks (depending on which turn you take on the path). So, I’ve been taking decompression walks. Hopefully it helps with the frustrations of the new job. If nothing else, it’s better for my health. According to the Health app on my phone, some of the shorter circuits are as much as a half-mile long, so theoretically, with 2 breaks, I’ve walked a mile on top of whatever I walk normally during the day. In general, that can only be good for me.

If I’m distracted or online less, it’s because I’m dealing with a lot of energy expending on these things. Please feel free to reach out to me via whatever medium we usually talk. I am trying to remember to reach out to friends and I’m trying to schedule in events with friends, but I’m sure I’m going to mess up occasionally. As the routine gets more stable and feels consistent, I’m hoping that it will be easier for me to pick back up art/writing projects.

Life Changes – It’s Complicated

My degree (undergraduate, I never ended up getting a graduate degree), is an English degree. Worse (as people who like to point out that degree is worthless like to say), it’s a bachelor of arts, not even a bachelor of sciences degree. My minor which started out in Computer Science, ended up being an “Interdisciplinary” minor, consisting mostly of lower level programming languages and a number of technical theater courses (mostly design type – set and lighting specifically). (This was due to both my inability to learn and therefore pass “Statistics and Probability” taught by a math instructor who should have been forcibly retired, and an unwillingness on the part of a department head to grant an exception in curriculum to a different statistics class (ie: the one taught by the business department, rather than the math department).) My original plan was to write manuals for people who wanted to learn how to make their computers do cool things. I figured that even though those teach yourself books weren’t huge yet, there seemed to be a market for them. (Cue hysterical laughter from the peanut gallery.) The computer science professor who taught several of the lower level languages courses I’d done well in was confident enough in me that she’d allowed me to take Assembly concurrently with the stats course. I was getting a low A in Assembly, even though stats made no sense. She went to bat for me on the exception request. We just couldn’t get it. So I had to drop the Assembly class and subsequently the minor. Because I’d been taking various theater classes (mostly technical but some history and speech based ones in there as well), it was easy enough to merge those “electives” into my existing courses for my original minor. Between the change and a reduction in class hours during a time when my mom was sick and I was working full-time, I was pretty happy to only graduate two summer terms “late”, as opposed to the end of the spring term.

In my working career, I have not written anything seriously. No manuals, no newspaper articles, no journals. Nothing like that. I’ve written a few blogs or contributed to advertising copy, and I’ve cleaned up some cover letters and occasionally contributed my opinion to making contracts and other documents easier to understand. But I’ve held jobs as a shelver at a public library, a catering waitress, pizza baker (and seller), university police dispatcher, retail clerk (and lower management – all the responsibility and hardly any perks) at video and music stores, an independent HTML copy/paste contractor, an office support staff at a residential construction company, an office support staff at a company that provided supplies for drug testing, eventually an administrative assistant (and bookkeeper) for a residential construction company, an office support staff at a financial office, an office support staff at a property management company and an accounting clerk for an affiliate marketing firm.

The only jobs even remotely related to my degree are the office jobs, and even those are stretching it a bit. Mostly, what undergraduate degrees are still good for (when they’re BA’s especially, but even some BS’s) are to show that the student/applicant to the job will stick to a decision long enough to complete the goal they set for themselves. Some people might say that’s a very cynical way of looking at things, but for some hiring managers, it’s also the truth.

I held the jobs at the residential construction company from spring of 2002 through late summer of 2005, then from late summer of 2006 until now – mid-summer of 2015. Really, for the last 7 years or so, I’ve been in some sort of part-time situation of 80% time or less. For the last couple years, I even tried a few secondary part-time office jobs to try to help make up the percentage to get to “full time” (or slightly over for a short time where I came very close to burning myself out). I probably should have looked for a true full-time job many times in the last 7 years. I couldn’t and wouldn’t, because I really actually felt as though I could retire at the residential construction company – if it could just complete recovery from the recession. I believe in the quality of the product, to the degree that I’d build a home with the company if I could afford it myself. It still hasn’t recovered though, quite. A lot of similar companies in our area have gone out of business, and mine is still limping along.

But I was offered full-time at one of those other part-time jobs, and the package (salaried, benefits – health and potential for more financial benefits) was such that I felt like I had no choice but to accept it.

It’s been a very surreal two weeks. On the one hand, I made the choice. No one forced me to decide what I did. On the other hand, I didn’t feel like I really had a choice because it was between the financially intelligent decision and the emotionally satisfying decision. I chose the financial one, because I’m tired of living paycheck to paycheck, not having a true savings account, and having to pull money from what should be my retirement someday. I’m incredibly privileged to even HAVE that option. It isn’t even one I earned – it is entirely due to having lost my parents earlier than I would have liked.

Thursday was stressful, unnerving and exhausting as my final day. I feel like I’ve let people down who depend on me. It doesn’t help that more and more lately, people (clients, co-workers, subcontractors) would comment on how generalized my knowledge had become and how much I actually did. My co-workers are sad to see me go, and they’re probably a bit nervous about working together to take over my duties – but I know that after some awkward days coming – they will figure it out and be just fine. And they say it was a smart decision, and that they’re happy for me. They took me out to lunch and gave me a heartfelt card saying goodbye. And I believe that they want what’s best for me, but I’m still sad.

But, and, I’m also excited to see if the new job and it’s benefits will be all they are promised to be. I’m hopeful that by this time next year I will have amassed a small bit of savings. I’m even tentatively hopeful that we can be looking at buying a house. I’m already sure I’ll be thankful to have employer provided insurance (which will save me about $100 per month).

Overall, it will be a good choice. I will learn to find job satisfaction in things at the new job. It will be a different sort of satisfaction. It won’t be a satisfaction based in pleasing clients with a physical product, but I’m sure there will be something.

And maybe, since it uses such a different place in my brain, my creativity will flow better.

Grab Bag of Week in Review

It has been a particularly long, odd week.

I have not been productive creatively. In some ways, I expected lack of creativity last week (which was over-booked, and so I knew that even though I’d signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo for the first time – the first week of numbers/words would probably suck – they did at 0), but not this week which I hoped would be better. On the other hand, I helped brainstorm with a role-playing group of friends over Skype last week, and we contributed to a lot of creativity there, so I’m refusing to beat myself up too horribly. This week though, I have not drawn, I have barely baked/cooked anything that interesting (although I collected ingredients for apple-roses), and I have certainly not written anything (other than a lot of tweets and chats, and a lot of work related emails).

The grey-beast, Phoenix, has had some health things over the last few weeks. Some of it is being dealt with concisely. We know what the problem was, we got the appropriate medication, and he’s healing up. (We’re not sure how he got the bacteria that caused the problem… but having a depressed immune system makes the hows sometimes wibbley-wobbley.) Another health issue is just plain… odd. So we’re trying a topical treatment in an attempt to not have to increase his daily steroid dose, which is what is depressing his immune system, but also keeping the disease/probable cancer at bay. He is eating, having good bathroom habits, and playing. He is also being cuddly when appropriate and good natured. As the vet and vet techs constantly say, he has the best temperament and diseases are unfair and suck. In a not pleasant situation, he really makes the best of it. We confirmed that Shadow does indeed weigh more than Phoenix. Our little black cat on the dainty frame with the teeny tiny paws weighs, in fact, a full pound more than our long lean boy, coming in at just about 12 pounds. Hm. More playing is in store for her. Luckily, she likes chase (feathers, the red dot, string, her brother). I’m trying cutting back on dry food as well, as the vet worries it is hard for both of them to digest. Luckily they like their wet food quite a bit.

My hubby’s job situation has been a yo-yo this week. He hasn’t been very happy for the last few weeks (he says, I say months) at work. He felt as though they were more worried about pushing services and items than actually caring for clients’ needs. And he was very much chaffing at still having had no actual formal training at his new position in the company, lo these many, many months later. Well, Monday they admitted they were going in a different direction, and as his sales figures were down they were letting him go. It’s hard to get mad and fight for your job when you haven’t had a lot of support and are feeling ignored and that your concerns are minimized. So, he swung by another old job location near by (one that had reached out to him this past year to see if he was available) and let them know that he was now available. As of yesterday, he has a new job, starting next Monday. It’s a position he hasn’t held in an extremely long time (and I’m not sure he ever held at that particular employer) but he’s excited about it, tentatively. And happy to not have to job hunt or deal with unemployment.

My own work situations are about as normal. As another friend says, lots of juggling of chainsaws, whips and exploding objects. In my case, at job 1, it mostly involves holding my tongue and not saying when I think someone is not being professional (because then I would be being unprofessional) and trying to juggle paperwork that is redundant. Oh, and a lot of email regarding web issues, contracts (and supporting arcane government documents), and advertising this week. At job 2, it is mostly comparing data, digging out discrepancies, resolving them, and moving on to various scenarios – but with numbers in an accounting sort of situation. I like both, but both tire out my brain in different ways, and sometimes all I want to do is come home and poke at puzzles until I get brain dead enough to sleep. Or soak in a hot bath. Or actually just go to sleep.

And finally this morning, I woke up to twitter having a rage-meltdown over an actress become magazine editor who took and tweeted a photograph that exposed her (many tiered levels of) privilege. I think I mentally wrote 3 separate blogs while showering and preparing for work in my head about why yes, she was privileged and yes, frustration was justified but the rage and trolling were not terribly productive. Mostly it boiled down to: don’t compare this woman to that woman, this is not helpful feminism*; don’t presume she’s got no idea what she did or was doing, she’s took that photograph from a privileged position of X as well as Y W and Z; and finally, BE PRODUCTIVE IN YOUR RAGE, show why it’s messed up, don’t just bitch. The final one shows my privilege, because I have a background and education level that desperately wants more than a 140 character click-bait statement of anger. I want a thesis statement, a breakdown and a proposed alternate solution. That in itself is problematic for many people. In the end, I’ve chosen to only contribute this paragraph (and a back-and-forth chat with a good friend) to get the topic out of my system, instead of contributing to the internet rage machine.

And now, I’ve written something. It’s just a menu of my week (sans tomorrow, which will be focused on job 2, and hopefully end in home-grilled tri-tip steaks, salad and mashed potatoes), but it’s words. Hopefully that will trigger a bit of fiction writing. And I do have some Skype gaming to look forward to on Saturday.

How was your week?

This is also an example of the feminism problem that makes women say they are not feminists. They know that feminism is supposed to be about equality for all women/people/etc, but they also know that in real life, it quite often is only the “right” feminism in the “right” ways (white, middle-upper class, middle-age, cis-women) and that no one else is welcome. It’s hard to take ownership of a movement you disagree with large chunks of and that doesn’t support you personally.

My 2014 …

My 2014 opened with a proposal, which was wonderful.

There were moments of hope, when my sister applied for jobs in-state and a state nearby.

There was the excitement of getting a new car for the first time in 12 years.

There were moments of sadness, when my sister lost her cat, who was her baby, and my nephew.

There was a new life welcomed to the world, a new human niece to another sister.

There was the cool convenience of being able to help my sister apartment shop via Skype.

There was the joy of welcoming her here in advance of her belongings, and helping her shop for and find a car that works for her.

There was the joy of getting married to my sweetheart of many years.

There was the relief (and sadness) of having to admit that my secondary job, while useful for funds, was not useful enough and definitely not useful enough to offset the stress that was making me miserable.

There were moments of hope as my primary job seemed to experience a slight uptick in work and sales.

There have been good moments of reconnecting with past friends, strengthening bonds with current friends, and sadly realizing that a few friends are perhaps better suited as acquaintances.

There have been moments that were better for writing, baking, cooking, and drawing. Creativity has overall been good, even to starting a new game with friends.

There have been moments where I have not been all I would have hoped, health-wise, and in fact made no advancement but rather backslid in terms of exercise.

There have been moments where being socially aware and critical has been depressing, overwhelming, and frustrating in the extreme as I watch humans as a whole Not Do Well.

There have been a few shining exceptions to the nastiness as some things are more accepted in my corner of the world.

Still, being hopeful, I am declaring my personal 2014 to have been a good one. I hope that 2015 is as good and better, that I continue to improve as a person in my health, my creative self, my interactive self and my working self. I wish everyone the best year that they can have as well!