What the fuck happened to 2015.
I feel like I can capture 2015 in three stages:
- Jan-April, where my life was dominated by work; I was working (solo!, since it was confidential, rather than in the team of 8-10 the project should have had) on the engineering work to produce the first draft-stage of my new pilot plant
- May-September, where my life was nothing but work: this was the site shutdown, which happened for some very serious reasons I won't blog about, in which I was given a strict budget and a strict deadline and told that if we didn't have the plant running by X our ability to, well, stay here in Akron as a place of employment would be severely hampered, and had to work a miracle with only one other co-project-leader and some contractors. Literally I did nothing but work during this time period, 60-80 hours per week maybe, evenings and weekends all morphed into additional office hours. Health suffered; house suffered; I drank a lot, picked up a life partner almost by accident, and in the end we saved the site. It's 20% of what it used to be and lumping along slowly on broken rims and superglue, but it's running.
- October-December, during which I realized just how much my own health - physical, mental, spatial (my well-being is severely affected by the state of my own home), emotional - had suffered from the previous 9 months and started the long slow job of digging myself out of a black hole. Also, child care, as my second niece was born and both she and my two-year-old niece (and their parents) needed my help and love and time. Have you ever had a two-year-old as your best friend ever? It's quite nice, she's fucking hilarious.
2015 was also an odd year personally;
- My grandmother passed away in August. She was the greatest. She was my best friend. I miss her so much. We all knew her health was failing - it had been for 5 years, acutely in the most recent year - but it's still a Hell of a Thing when someone goes. She and I had a special bond: she was what I will be like when I am 92; I was what she would have been like born into a different generation; as the sole grandparent and the sole single grandchild we spent most family gatherings together, and she was just my favorite. She was horribly tactless, incredibly impatient, occasionally directly rude, insatiably stubborn, very demanding, overbearing, sometimes overemotional: and I fucking loved her for it, because she was me in so many ways, and also because she just didn't give any more fucks. I'm still reeling from the loss.
- As I said, my second niece was born late this year. In the process of helping out there I've become much closer to my first niece, and I like it; I love all my aunts, but wasn't ever really close to them in this way, and I've realized that I really do need to be in her life (their life). Family comes first. Our relationship is something special, because I'm not a parent or a grandparent, so I'm... exempt from a lot of the expectations there, so I just get to be whatever I want to her and with her. I'll do the same for the younger one as well. Realizing how important this is was surprising, but shouldn't have been. I'm quite keen on kids even if it seems cooler to hate them these days; they're more honest than adults and usually more fun. (What I hate, I'm finding, are shit parents, but that's neither here nor there.)
- relationship - hmmmm. Not sure if the word applies. I have a something. It's complicated. And private. But there. Something very odd happened during the Shutdown Months and I found someone I quite like and enjoy who feels the same about me -- and that's enough for me, for right now.
Every year I say "this is the year I got my ass kicked by work" but this is the year it really truly happened: I hit my limit, I found the edge, I have located rock-bottom and I have absolutely no intention of ever going back there again. Working in a 72-year-old chemical facility doesn't make this easy, or a thing I have control over; but I do have control over my own energies and I have always been very. very good at saying no.
I'm looking at this year as a real learning experience: a lot of it was, frankly, awful as fuck, but I know I've learnt and grown from it. I like who I am right now, even if I'm still working on portions of my life that aren't great (social life, for example, what the fuck is that and who has time for one with all the working and the sleeping). I'm finally coming to terms with the fact that fibromyalgia, immunodeficiency, arthritis, asthma, anxiety, OCD, depression - that these things need to be considered, that I can't ignore them and plod stubbornly forward: so instead I'll stubbornly deal with them and balance my life better as I go.
That was a very, very odd year. I'm proud of what I've done, but I miss my life.
So over my brief microsabbatical I decided on a list of things I want to get done by the end of the year: thus, New Year's Resolutions, in reverse, ie my resolution is to have this done before the new year. See? Get it? It's like I'm clever instead of backwards and wrong!
Get Healthy [metric: exercise 3+/wk; lose 10+ lb]
Content note / Note this: being healthy and losing weight are not always the same thing! Health has a unique meaning to every individual body!
That being said: for me getting healthy and knocking off weight go hand-in-hand at this point in time. From May-September I ate poorly, rested poorly, drank too much, drowned in stress, and had no time or motivation to work out at all. That plus medication changes has resulted in what is, for my body, unhealthy poundage.
I miss swimming. I miss yoga. I don't miss running, fuck running, but I miss being able to run I guess? I miss punching my bag. I want to have Korra arms. And I have, quite reasonably, 10-20 lb I could lose before being even close to "danger". (Trust me, I'm a Taurus; we don't diet.)
This is something I can make happen by 01 Jan 2016.
Inhabitable basement [metric: obvious]
Right now the basement is storage, which is part of what basements are for, but mine opens up to my patio (and grill, and fire chimney) and has a nice little area by the windows where friends could sit and drink wine and grill things. I've two drum sets in my basement and my keyboard, all of which I have been missing desperately. (I miss music! I dream about pianos.) My workout area is functional, but not at all welcoming. My laundry area could use some sprucing.
Much of the storage is related to the above, which means I just need to sort it and work through it. A good part, however, is my grandmother's stuff. She finally passed away in August (I am not sure I even mentioned it here; I was too broken by it to do so) and I do not mind storing her things forever but need to go through them and decide which way makes sense.
This is, also, quite doable by 2016, and having those areas back in my life will please me immensely.
Shame room --> Craft room [metric: obvious]
I want to turn my spare bedroom into a crafting room, to house sewing / knitting / beading / anything else I may start doing. Right now it's a shameful repository of clothes-to-be-donated and a few boxes from moving (not original boxes - these were empty boxes that were repacked with "shit i do not want to deal with rn" and hidden).
Plan for the greatroom [metric: having an estimate / loan]
I have plans in my head to redo my entire greatroom, which started with my neverending desire to replace the horribly stained carpet in there and grew into a really, really epic floor plan. I need to get it from my head onto the page, then find a contractor who can give me estimates on time / cost to make it happen. Why not? Houses are investments, and my cafe-bar thing will be incredible.
Work-Life Balance [metric: ???]
I need to prove to myself that I can, in fact, work the kind of job that pushes all of my success buttons without killing myself. The next 3 months will be busy, as always, but not deadly, so it's time to fucking do it. I still don't know how to make a metric for this; maybe I can use success on the other Resolution points, because they won't happen if I continue to use my energy on work.
Mental Peace [metric: ???]
I went back through some journal entries and I've been in a massive depression funk since early 2014. That's too long. It has started to severely affect my health and my job. I need to attack this. I realize depressions don't "go away" but I haven't tried anything really and I at least deserve an effort.
Write Again [metric: get some word count] No real comments. I just miss writing.
I stopped there, since there are really only 3 months left in the year, and they will contain not only the major hols of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but also the birth of my newest niece or nephew, so I'm well aware that this is a lot to do in that time frame. (Obviously they won't need to be complete, but I work better with deadlines, even self-imposed ones. Better to not let myself cheat.)
There. Public posting makes it real, right?
I had a tiny, tiny bit of a breather in October in which I realized I have forgotten what it's like to have hobbies. I consider hobbies something I'm actively involved in, even if it's minimal: things like sewing, knitting, writing, those are hobbies; watching Netflix, reading Tumblr, browsing Pinterest, those are not. (Gaming is an interesting crossover, because sometimes it actively involves me like a hobby and sometimes it tunes my brain out like a relaxing non-hobby - depends on the evening, my mood, and what I'm doing in the game.) I have - or I had - many things I considered hobbies: writing, knitting, and sewing being the ones I've been attempting to pick back up, but one can also toss in drawing, photography, blogging, house projects, even running and swimming in some lights.
I've forgotten how to have hobbies. I've lost the ability - the energy - to come home and relax via activity: my relaxing time comes strictly from inactivity, ie watching Criminal Minds reruns on Netflix, or lying on the floor. Part of this is the chronic pain, the exhaustion, the fibro fog -- when playing a video game feels like a chore, I'm pretty sure that's rock bottom. But part of it is just being so overwhelmed and overstimulated by my job that I don't have even 1% of battery left to engage in any kind of creative pursuit.
The realization came, as they do, right on the back of a mental epiphany for the future universe I have planned in which I write a series of horribly trash novels about lesbian werewolves in space. I was driving home from the seminar I gave at OU and my brain just randomly decided to figure out how the magic works in the universe, which was the push I needed to sit down at my desktop for something other than Dragon Age.
It was a very confusing feeling. I have the memory of wanting to write, of having an idea, of sitting down and generating notes and plot outlines and sometimes just spilling words, sentences, strings of thoughts and ideas filling up the screen (in abundance, sometimes, because let's face it, I can be the tl;dr of abundant wordcount) --but I had forgotten how to - saying "how to write" isn't exactly it, because sentences and ideas were still coming to mind. I had forgotten how to reach the mindset of "hobby".
I've since then been trying to reclaim it, in the interest of the genderqueer vampires who want to fly spaceships, but it's a slow process. The weirdest bit has been realizing I lost it in the first place.
When you forget how to have a hobby, I think that's a pretty good sign you need to reevaluate your life choices.
Lady Fibromyalgia-Arthritis Johnson thanks you.
In other nonsensible news, I may be considering signing up for a triathlon. A baby triathlon - sprint triathlon category: swim 0.5 mi, bike 15 mi, run 3.1 mi. I don't know why the prospect is so appealing -- it isn't like this body is running low on pain and exhaustion and thus has to pick up some more at the triathlon training store. This is a good idea, Sev, said no one. However, the thought of doing something stupid and violent appeals to me. It's cool.
The latest wrench thrown into my plans to finally get my shit under control and become the Queen of Slack Ass Island is not a wrench at all, it's a beautiful exciting bunch of daisies: I have a niece. My brother and sister-in-law welcomed adorable bitty (and I mean it, super bitty, so tiny we were concerned) JA in the middle of October. The family all gathered for the birth, and since then we've been staggering vacation days to pitch in and help since newborns are, frankly, awful. Yeah the miracle of birth babies are a gift bundle of joy blah blah blah: newborns are awful. I said it and having done my share of screaming nights already I refuse to take it back. Don't get me wrong, I already love her like the goddamn sun, but yo gurl u r a handful.
Between the job that just won't quit!!!, a house that needs some TLC before the winter, and a suddenly increased travel schedule, I am (still) somewhat stressed. I had to take a leave of absence from DOINK, which makes me pretty sad, but I just can't handle it on top of everything and it wasn't really fair to the team. I've started taking work home on the weekends. I know it's a horrible habit to get into, but I just need to get caught up / stay on target / get ahead with a couple things before the year ends to keep my own sanity. I'm not doing it for the company (directly); I'm doing it for me. It is a sad state of affairs when doing work on a Sunday is the less stressful option but that's where I am right now, the Sad Captain of the SS Overworked, Angry, and Optionless.
I am - finally - learning how to work with my body and my schedule and my stress level, probably because I am at the point where I am being forced to adapt or die. I have become 90% hermit, which does make me sad but that recharge time is what keeps me alive so while I'm sad I'm not sorry about it; weekends where I don't have to leave the house and can spend a good portion of my time alternating housework and relaxing things are literally the only way I can face Monday mornings (whether it's work or adorable screaming niece). I've discovered that I have absolutely no energy when I get home from work, but I've also discovered that if I am smart - feed myself, crash on the couch for an hour or two with some episodes of Bones or Criminal Minds, decompress and relax - I recharge enough to get one or two small productive things done before it's time for bed. This has had much better results than the times I've tried to get things done immediately after getting home to "not lose momentum" and ended up in pain, miserable, and ineffective.
I am not yet sure whether this method will apply to working out as well; every week I tell myself I'm going to get back to the gym (which I'm still merrily paying for) and/or do something, but every week hurts. This week we've been back to stabbing knives between my spine and shoulder blades, which is a sensation I haven't missed. I'm pretty sure my body's serving me repercussions from a weekend full of raking, hours upon hours of leaf blowing, and a final mow before the snow comes (which may be today) -- I like working on my yard but I guess I need to be more on-the-ball and spread the work out better, because piling it all into three days means I can't turn my head for a week. Okay. Message received, you asshole.
Anyway, I do hope to get back into a workout schedule. I am thinking of signing up for some workout classes - not only because I think having a schedule will help me go, but also because having a schedule will help me leave work close to on time :/
I am also seeing a rheumatologist the first week in December to try to get some more helpful drugs and see how else I can deal with these weeks where my entire body just feels inflamed, on fire, sore and tender and weak.
And now, another meeting. Afters I may go up and down the hall and see if I can pay anyone $20 to poke repeatedly at my neck for fifteen minutes.
There are days my employees catch me before I have even entered the building; I swear to god they're timing their smoke breaks since they know I pull in at 7:55am every morning, because they flag me down walking from my car to the door with whatever the day's update is. There are days I don't log into my own computer until 10; there are days I don't start my own actual work day until 4-5pm when everything else has calmed down. There have been evenings I am there until 6, 6:30 pm; there are nights I bring work home (tonight being one of them). There have been absolutely zero days where I leave at 4:45pm like I am supposed to. I use my mobile so much for work the company has started subsidizing it.
Did I mention things are absolutely batshit fucking crazy?
I have no time for anything anymore. I'm basically now working the same 10-hr days I was working beforehand, with added bonus 8+ days on Fridays. Becky is joking that I didn't actually get a raise, I'm now just being paid for epic overtime; it's actually truer than it should be.
It's a common joke among the management team (who I think I shall nickname after summons, because it pleases me to think of us all as a team of eidolons), because on those days where shit has been flying off the fan at intense and disastrous rates and we don't sit down at our own desks actually alone until 4:30pm it's actually nice to stay until 6:00pm because we don't know what's going to happen tomorrow but it's quiet now and we can focus. Ditto on Fridays; Fridays have become a blessing, the one day a week I know I will be minimally interrupted and can make a reasonable attempt to churn through all of the work I meant to do during the week and was pulled away from: 40 hours in one 8hr day, that's doable, right. Siren (the manager focused more on products and projects) and I mourn the loss of our ability to tell everyone to fuck off (Siren is also new to her position) and complain about the intense upkeep we need to do to stay targeted on our underperformers; Golem (the manager focused more on mechanical aspects) and I are already planning late-night office pizza parties as we are forced into a software update we weren't consulted on and weren't a part of but are still expected to launch into our maintenance program by some ridiculously unwieldy date like September. I am lucky to be surrounded by amazing people who understand and desperately want me to succeed (although in Golem's case I think that is mainly so that he can stop working on Saturdays); I adore them immensely, even as we all joke about using and abusing each other. (I, as Operations, am the cross-sectional point where Siren's research & development & troubleshooting projects intersect with Golem's preventative maintenance & plant improvement work; this makes my life difficult but also means that they both have to be nice to me, ha.)
I am overwhelmingly, bizzarely, incomprehensibly in love with this job.
This is what I was made for. I have already, after a month-and-change: dealt with a problem underperforming employee in a way that promises to either make progress or GTFO after basically 20 years of experience and 5+ years of not seeming able to do the job; sent nastygram after nastygram until the two worst communicators in the plant specifically come to me to let me know what they are doing before anyone else even knows; solved scheduling mishaps; yelled at the EPA; called our safety director's work stupid and dumb in the same meeting (although that was inadvertant and accidental), to her face (which I realize is tactless; here's the fucks I give, because incompetence is the match that lights this stubborn Taurean fire); defended my own employees against attacks and slander and bullshit they shouldn't have to put up with from other people and been specifically thanked for doing so; learnt how to buy things within our online file management system and promptly spent $300 on hard hats to play with; improved the attitude of a supervisor who has been a negative vendetta-hound for 8+ years; redone the old lab where I used to sit into what will be usable office cubicles (although I can't take full credit for that one); made my boss say the phrase "you are right, he/she/that is fucking clueless" half a dozen times; made my boss either grin maniacally or put his head down when I walk into his office; made my boss regret his decision to hire me probably four hundred times; made people actually run from me; made changes, made improvements, made an impact. I've revamped systems and redone OPSs and made demands of our alarm management system that no one has made until now. I've let out my inner asshole, my inner control freak, my inner perfectionist: they're all running around rampant making decisions and giving orders and frightening bystanders everywhere. I'm not sorry; I was not hired into this position to be good and play along.
I am absolutely loving it which is good because right now this is my only life, my highest priority, the shit I eat and breathe.
It will not last forever. I will not last forever in this: canceling PT because I have to stay until 6 because there's work due tomorrow, not scheduling doctor appointments because I don't have the time, not working on my thesis because fuck more work; this level of intensity will eventually fade as all of the plant becomes used to this position's existence and my presence. I will burn out, the initial activation energy will be met, the workload will become manageable even if I have to light half of it on fire. It's not forever.
But right now all things Sev are absolutely batshit fucking crazy, so please forgive me if I take a while to reply to an email or respond to a comment or do anything I have told you I would do because I am running on fumes and adrenaline and caffeine and stubbornness at the mo.
HOW ARE YOU ALL
I really don't know what else I have to say other than a ripping chain of profanity so long it would make string theory look pedestrian and quaint.
I'm tired. I'm on a new drug (anxiety drug scribed for insomnia - cross your fingers) and I have a new doctor (rheumatologist), increasing my army of medical specialists to a whopping 5. I hate Midgar and its humid soggy heat. I start my new job on Monday. I don't get a "break" for three weeks. My car needs an oil change, I need a haircut, my lawn needs mowed. My life needs a live-in secretary/google/organizer. I am not going to finish FFVI this month, although I am actually trying my damndest to get close.
I am. so tired.
I think I need a vacation