Sunday, December 28, 2008

Work is Hell

It's been a long week. Work has been absolutely awful, as in coming home in tears on Monday. I feel so completely crumbled, torn down by that place; there are small moments of competency, or even a fraction of a second of flow, but mostly I just try to get through each day without breaking down, without walking out in a blaze of curses, without a broken soul. There are bargains made within myself about how long I will, how I will negotiate if ever actually offered the job.

Sometimes I feel like I am living someone else's life and I am not sure how I got here. Who is that person getting up and putting on make up everyday, who is that woman with the closest to chic and hip haircut I have ever seen in the mirror, who is that person picking up clothes the night before. There is no way I know that person who has to remember to take out the nose piercing all the freaking time for work. I cannot figure out where my time goes, aside from work and sleep. How did I once do other things beside work when I last had a full time job? Seriously? I did a lot of things it seems, plus often had a second job for periods of time. Okay, the other full time jobs where not as stressful every damned day which certainly helps to not feel souless at the end of the day, which in turn gives one energy to do other things.

The other day I realized that part of the problem with this place is that there is no intrinsic pay off, just a paycheck. I am not the person that can live like that long term. I do not feel like I am doing bits of good, or supporting associations that actually really make a difference in the world (okay, getting rid of termites is a good thing but not the kind of difference I am talking about). It occurs to me that I need to fill out that application for CASA that I received right after Thanksgiving. Now that is the kind of change, difference I can get behind. Which means it is, of course, a volunteer thing. However if I did something like CASA again maybe a job like this one, but not necessarily this one, bearable.

Right now I need to head upstairs, pick out an outfit so I can go to bed in order to get up in the morning where I will need to run to an office supply store to find pretty invitations that can run on a laser printer for an event that is in less than 3 weeks because that damn association is nuts because if they weren't I could have had the invitations I spent three hours drafting mailed out already. Yes the same association that emailed me at 4:26 Friday December 19th asking "where are we on sending out holiday cards". No they had never said a word about sending holiday cards before that email. Tomorrow I will tell my supervisor that I am taking Friday off so I can have another 3 day work week in a desparate attempt to stay working for them. Tomorrow I will come home and do something fun, or interesting, or in some way satisfying having nothing to do with work.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Why I dig social media

Someone I know on an email list wrote about not liking texting/quick phones of the "I just left class" genre, not understanding the appeal of Facebook, etc. She talked about the lack of deep connection in her life, that she longs for debates with friends, about how she doesn't miss PTA meetings becuase the small talk about killed her. What follows is my response:

I completely understand wanting, craving deeper connection- it is that lack that makes living in Dayton so hard. The friends I have the deepest, long term connections with live far away. Through Facebook I have begun reconnecting with someone with whom I once shared a good bond but as our connective social circumstances shifted we had with one brief exception no real contact in a good 15 years until now where through Facebook we are learning about who and where we are now. Another bonus is that she lives about 3 hour drive from me, or maybe less I don't remember.

With the help of Facebook I am growing my connection with a few people from here (in fact some of them are invading our home the weekend between christmas and new year's - again please excuse the house!). [Here means the list I originally posted this on.]

So while Facebook, email, this list, Twitter* are not the same by any means as having deep conversations in person or even over the phone, it gives me ties that hold me in place - literally and figuratively, eases my sense of isolation, encourages me to reach out more than I would by sending random emails or finding backbone to call people. Like here, I am "meeting" people via these places as which helps. Without Ravelry* I don't think I would have survived this move. The online world is not, absolutely not the same but it can become a vehicle for real life connection.

*I am "dharmawrites" on both Twitter and Ravelry, in case you want to connect with me there.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

In which our heroine is, well trying to be a heroine

Yesterday work just about crushed me with the weight of the unknown, the largess that is it's disorganization, the impending week of stress. It is trying thing for me to feel incompetent and yet that is mostly how I feel at this job. Sure I have moments of smooth running but they are not many and the feeling does not last long.

Up notes

  • Delighted with the pianist I found for the President's Party in January
  • May have gotten invited to a cocktail event at the Banker's Club on Saturday
  • My Boys (TM) help get me through the day

Down notes

  • Following last year's model for a task as I was told granted me a ton of grief (a repeating motif)
  • Trying to find a simple file took at least 10 minutes because of someone's inane idea of appropriate way to store things on a computer (a repeating motif)
  • Tomorrow I need to be Cincinnati by 7:00 a.m. until about 5:00 p.m. where upon I need to come back to the office to load up my vehicle so I can prep for the breakfast meeting on Thursday which means I need to be a the hotel (local thank the goddesses without husbands) for 6:00 a.m. The breakfast is immediately followed by a committee meeting, then I go back to the office until 5:00 p.m. If I was not a temporary employee I would get no overtime or comp time at this place.
  • I have no background in Pagemaker or InDesign yet I need to produce a "wow" invitation to be printed this week for a January 17th event - an event I have no information on except date and place right now.
There's a ton more but it paints a picture doesn't it? One of My Boys (TM) JP said I looked beaten down yesterday. I wish I was better at hiding my feelings about this job but I'm not, at least not in front of my coworkers. Each day I take many deep breaths, I literally shake off things that get throw at me, gripe and make jokes with My Boys (TM) but I have not found my Zen about this place. Each day I challenge myself with goals about staying, which range from another hour, all the way through six months. Mostly I feel a huge sense of accomplishment when I wake up in the morning knowing I will go back there. If only I could keep that sense of fullness for more than 5 minutes at a time. I suppose I should embrace the 5 minutes and focus on those moments. Actually I do because if I didn't reflect on them several times a day, I would have walked out already. Maybe I'm greedy thinking that work should be more satisfying but most of my other work has been or I've walked. Maybe my memory is fuzzy but I don't remember a place being such a nightmare from day one and every day like this one is but I suspect because I haven't experienced it at this level before in my work life. I have had sucky jobs but I expected them to suck (the Deb Shop in the Hampshire Mall comes to mind where I lasted 3 months working part time).

So I try to come up with schemes that would make it liveable to stay here. Mostly they include working less than 40 hours and dropping an association or two. If I could do that I would be able to lose the feeling of doing a really bang up job followed immediately by the sense of impending doom by all that is overdue somewhere else. It would be nice if I felt confident that I could make that proposal and it would be accepted. Instead I will focusing on getting prepped for the next two days, doing what I can before I leave, then I will focus on getting through until Friday. No promises about next week, sorry.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bullet Points

Lila, our newest baby, is just so damn cute and has the bluest eyes.

How does one lose a 4 foot curtain rod?

I {heart} my knit groups.

Because I'm i
nsane I just cast on a holiday yesterday and as soon as I find my size 5 short circular needles will cast on another one. According to my files on Ravelry I have 9 (soon to be 10) works in progress.

Wednesday I almost walked away from my job. The post event email I received was that bad. Truly.

Because of a flip comment in an email we will have our first real company in Ohio and I can't wait but I wish some of those folks from HGTV would come over quick. This place hasn't been painted in a decade, there's the half assed wall paper removal happening in the kitchen.

Without "My Boys" at work there is no way I would have lasted there at all. They help made that crazy place fun.

Penn Station makes the most awesome artichoke subs.

Yesterday I scored the best deal on shoes. One pair normally goes for about $90, for me? $20. They look kinda like these to the left. Great for work and everyday. Wore them to knit night today, love them!

The second pair goes for about $60 but I scored them for $12.50 and look like high heeled oxfords - great for work when I need to be dressy.

Have I mentioned I lovelovelove shoes?

Now off to bed so I can face the job.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Haunted Streets

Lately when I take Puppyman (aka Wyatt) for a night walk he has been stopping at the beginning of the Greenway to stare across the street in the direction of Brommel Park. I never see anything moving or hear any noises. It takes a few tugs to get him moving. It takes a few more psychic tugs for me to shake the feelings his studious gaze to the north inspire.

Last night I took him out and he did not stop in his tracks however I was spooked by something else. Three darkly dressed children, the youngest was probably no more than six years old, walking, slowly rather aimlessly at 9:30 at night on a weeknight. They might be the kids who are often running after a dog that has escaped and they probably live on Wyoming. But tonight there was no dogs with them, nor were they calling for a lost pooch. There was something rather dangerous in a haunted aura sort of way about them. Their slow movement and dark clothes reminded me of a movie I could not remember but something along the lines of The Riches television which I opted out of following because the desperately dark story lines, the edge of total disaster caused me too much anxiety to watch it. It also recalled the episode of CSI where a house is surrounded by homeless people.

Tonight we reached the spot where he often stops but tonight he was paralyzed. No amount of tugging, coaxing would get him to move. He was smelling something that was absolutely compelling. Giving up I went to turn around and go home but then I thought I would try to distract him a bit and try looping around on the grass rather than trying to get him to walk on the path. Nope he wasn't having any of that either. He headed to cross the street and went to the infamous (in this house) white house and we walked to it's back yard which leads to the alley and back to our house.

My imagination tends to run rampant anyway so as Wyatt sniffed suspiciously my mind became a swirl of activity thinking of wild animals leaving scents (the cemetery one block south has been known to have fox); pheromones of fear left during a mugging (which almost never happens in this neighborhood); to obscure twisted tales that couldn't even fully form in the time I was standing there in the damp, chilled air at the same time I was trying to fathom how to get the dog to move.

Are there energies there that only beings like dogs and babies can sense? Are there deep dramas going on there? Scandalous rendezvouses? Or simple some new animal who we just keep missing who is giving off compelling scents. No way to know but it casts a whole different light on my neighborhood after dark.

Friday, December 05, 2008

It's the small things

We went to the tavern and came home to a huge mess compliments of Puppyman. I am so furious I can hardly talk. The dumping of the cat food bowls is nothing new, annoying and messy but nothing meaningful. He moved my bag to get to a tupperware container located inside that had some chicken and noodles. I decided to be responsible and take it home rather than let it sit around in the office fridge over the weekend. However I was not responsible enough, or perhaps too tired, to remember to take it out of my bag when I got home. Now we have one less awesome piece of rock 'n serve, which sucks.

But the worst of it is that he ripped my bag, which he didn't need to do because the zipper was open. It was a big canvas duffel with a flower print in mauves, pinks, and browns with nice handles that allowed me to carry it on my shoulder. The bag was good for short overnight trips, it held a number of knitting projects along with whatever else I might need for any given day.

Most importantly of all it came from my grandmother's home. I no longer remember whether I snagged from her enormous collection soon before she died, or whether I took after her death when we were doing some cleaning of her hoarder's apartment where the walls were suffocating with her endless piles. It was one of the most tasteful things she owned. Honestly. She had a lot of a lot of things but most of it was cheap and tacky. I called it my Mary Poppin's bag because it could hold an amazing array of things for all occasions if I cared to stock it that way; because it was the closest thing I have ever had to a carpet bag, an item that holds romantic, bohemian imagery and longing in my heart. Yes it had it's faults and I confess to looking here and there for something that better suited for the purposes I needed, but my attachment to this item went far beyond practical needs.

Tomorrow I will look at it again to see if a repair is possible. I will also look for a new bag. If I can do both I will hold both realities - the one that truly suits my needs and the one is attached to my heart.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

How to care just the right amount

Balance seems to be the theme of my life right now. Yesterday I worked 13.5 hours so I rewarded myself by going in an hour late. I felt like I totally paid for that when I received a long email from the president of my company with a thousand and one details that needed to be checked up for the event on Tuesday. Let's just ignore the part where there should be an established check list in the files for this event as they have been doing it forever and I just started a month ago. As well as another email ragging on how I did not follow the procedure correctly on one of their systems. Never mind I didn't even know about this system until Monday afternoon, tried to accommodate the request using said system on Tuesday and busted my butt to finish it on Wednesday before leaving at 3 for a different event.

While trying not to curse out loud, while trying to not cry in utter frustration I turned her brain dump email into a table with columns for draft dates, proofing responsibility, etc. I sent it her and received a positive comment about how it would certainly prove to be a useful document to have. Also she noted that as the event manager it was my responsibility to make sure it was all done and that some items were already late. Um, excuse me but I did not have a reference for 80% of the tasks or know of a place that anywhere that had all that data, and if it existed as it certainly should (since they have been doing this event for literally over 10 years) it should have been known to me long before 3 working days before the frigging event!

Did I mention their "training" sucks? That files are buried under seven layers of directories? That this place functions in crisis mode, a lot?

In the end I threw my hands up several time about several things spanning two associations and quite a few events. I stayed half an hour late which mean the net gain of time off today was half an hour. Most people who work here work late, a lot. The place is understaffed and needs a major dose of organizational management to restructure how it runs things. So how do I do enough work to keep things running reasonably, but not trying for a level of perfection that cannot be done here? How do I accept the limitations of not just myself but the whole company since there is little hope of things changing here. Things could run better but it would require someone, even little old me, to look over all the systems and create calendars for each association which would then be coalesced to figure out the crunch times and make recommendations on how to shift staffing, hire more employees, how to incorporate temps during heavy work times. Something, anything like that would help so much.

But since the likelihood of that happening is close to nil, how to I make this work in way that won't make me crazy. I am writing up notes by association where things are summarized, as I learn them; building calendars for events. To do my job reasonably well and work on creating systems because I just need to do that but be able to let it go when I leave, to not feel like I'm on an emotional roller coaster while there, to have things roll off my back and not really touch me. That is the trick, that is my zen riddle.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Levels of assumption

Way back when I heard that one of the ways class gets demonstrated is how one finds a telephone number. It was posited that a lower soci-economic class person would use the phone book (remember those?) and an upper class person would call the operator.

Today was my first experience with the entrepreneurial association and I am their event manager. The event was held at a country club, a venue I'm not sure I have ever been to, ever. I have since learned it is a rather exclusive one at that. It was so clear that the people from this association have money, make major money. It was a joint event with another sibling organization whose guidelines I am not familiar with but for ours I know the members need to be owners, CEO, or a major share holder in a business that grosses at least one million and are under 50 years old. These folks read like that too. So did their spouses, who with one exception, were fashionably thin; who were with one exception perfectly stylish. With one exception the members appeared to all be white; with one exception one spouse appeared to all be white.

The other group had some stickers for spousal name tags since they had left the other format at their office about 2 hours away. At one point a spouse (yes all the spouses were women, and 98% of the members that came to this event were male) folded up a sticker tag that wasn't needed and without even looking for a trash container she handed it to me without even looking at me. It was so clear that as far as she was concerned I was merely staff and would of course handle cleaning up after her. It would have never occurred to me to act like that, to assume someone else would take care of my trash.

In the car returning from the event, my co-worker and I were chatting. Being me, I couldn't help stating out loud how white the event was though I did couch it to suggest that perhaps it was related to the area -southern Ohio and northern Kentucky. He chuckled and said something like "You're not used to that, are you?". No, no I'm not. I noted that wasn't shocked. He said perhaps I a bit surprised. I was but only because I like to be optimist and just because it made sense that this group would be all white did not mean that I had to expect it.

Which leads me to think, would I expect the behavior from a black woman that I received at this event? Probably not but then again I did not expect it from a white woman. It's not that I was surprised exactly but shocked at stereotype being played out.

It's been a very long day what with being on the job from 8am -9:30pm. My bed is softly calling me now. 'Night.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

CASA in the casa?

During the four days I had off from work I wallowed, I waxed, and I waned. On one of the more waxy days I contacted my local CASA office. This is something I thought about doing when I lived in Massachusetts and California but hadn't gotten to it somehow.

Yesterday I received an email about my inquiry. This line made me laugh:
Do you have some flex in your schedule?
Flexibility? At this job? For such an honorable activity? Yeah right. But I can do the application and if I pass muster then I will do the training. I don't know what the future holds and this is something I want to do so why put off these steps. No reason at all. The most daunting part is the 36 hours of training: 6-9pm on Mondays and Wednesdays and three hours on Saturdays for the month of March. I checked the work calendar I emailed myself the first week on the job and I don't think any of the events fall on the training days. Of course who knows for sure if I will still be in March. Or I could be there and I will still be doing things to move myself in a forward direction.

Way back in about 1994 or so I trained with Massachusetts Department of Social Services to become a volunteer foster care case reviewer. Since I working at the Smith College School for Social Work I didn't expect a hassle for using my lunch hour, give or take, to do this activity. I didn't get a hassle either. It was not an easy volunteer experience, many of the cases broke my heart, caused an internal wrestling to find the "right" answer, which of course was really only the best answer at that given moment. Sometimes it was inspiring. When I finally ended my service there, which wasn't too long before I left the area in 2001, I felt good about it but knew I had only contributed a drop in the bucket. But a drop is still one that wouldn't be there unless someone had stepped up. Volunteering with CASA would allow me to once again put a drop in the bucket. It's a small drop but a worthy one.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Starting at the beginning

It's December 1st and the first day to try a new attitude about work. I will confess the positivity is not flowing freely. Perhaps a cwaptastic night of sleep is to blame in part. though right at the moment I am distracted, happily, by my three light colored kittens almost playing together - quite a breakthrough. And the moment has passed as they are each on their merry way. Perhaps that is a reminder to take each moment, and try to find some joy even if it is brief.

I have been thinking of writing a post about how my dog is my daily zen lesson but perhaps it really is the cats. I am more of cat person by nature anyway. Marcelle came up on the bed this morning for a cuddle. Instead of craving sleep or crabbing about having to wake up, I found happiness in petting her, having her sniff my face and tentatively lick at the combination of sleep and tears in my eye. After walking the dog, and attempting to find some zen in that moment that was cold and dark, I sat on the couch to check email. Lila, the newest baby - she is still so small, came up on my lap for her morning check in as she often does. She is the one that is truly "my" cat of the six (yes I said six, yes I know we moved here with only four) and I appreciate having that special bond so much it is hard to explain to folks who aren't cat, or even animal people. She is staring at me while she sits on the dog bed now while I type. She just ran over to squeak in my face and sit on my hands as I type.

Sorry I just had to pet her. So often I wish I could take her to work with me. It wouldn't work on so many levels but I swear it would make my day better. She is sitting on my left wrist as a type now, batting at her own tail.

It's now time to get dressed and put a face on. My lunch got packed last night, just need to grab it. Melissa, I am going to give it all that I have today but I may wind up crying in the bathroom at some point. It's just where I am right now.