seventhe: (SAZH)

it's incredible how much my mental shitshow fog has calmed down, knowing that I am going to get a break this week. It's like my whole body is sighing in relief.

I came in today to finish up some stuff - leave the office in a decent state, so that I can come back to a decent state, and so that I have less to worry about while I am out. (It isn't much - it's like saying 99 is less than 100 - but it's less.)

I'm leaving work early today, and then I will be off until next Monday. I talked to my boss, and there's only one major thing I would be expected to work on if it comes through - it may not - and if that's the case it can be done for home and I won't lose the hours I spend on it. I talked to a couple other managers briefly about my health as well, not because it's their business but because I know gossip can fly, and I want them to know what's going on with me, in case it takes longer than expected. I'm covering my bases the best I can. This place doesn't need me to run in the short-term, but that doesn't mean it's easy to slip out of its clutches.

Last night I sat with a glass of wine and tried to make some plans for this microsabbatical. I realize that the goal is to de-stress and Curaga the burnout, but part of that involves doing things I've been wanting to do for a while, doing things that will make me happy. So I made a list of everything I wanted to do around the house so that I could cherry-pick the most satisfactory of those tasks and make sure I was armed and ready to defeat them. (It ended up being a matrix. Color-coded. Multiple pages. Engineering to-do lists are so grand.)

I also laid out some of my hobby-work in the hopes of sparking some creativity. I find that creative motivation is one of the first things to go when I'm overworking (hence, the extreme lack of words in the past two years), and I'd like to find a way to make creative expression more sustainable because I think it could be a good counterbalance. I laid out some knitting patterns, dug out some beads, and eyeballed the laptop that has the lesbian werewolves in space on it.

This way I have an approach that can be active, rather than passive. Even though it seems like all I do is sleep these days, I know I won't go back feeling any different if I just sit on my couch. I want to have some things mixed in with all the relaxing. Having said that now, I have guaranteed I will sleep for 42 hours straight.

I'm not going to say my brain feels anything like good right now, but it feels better than it has in a long time knowing that I will have a couple breaths of space in my hands very soon.

seventhe: (Quistis: Bad Day)
I am fighting a losing battle to make this entry about something other than work.

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.
seventhe: (chocobo: hey bb)
I come home from work every day with the intention of working more. I realize this sounds dangerously pathetic or pathetically dangerous - choose one! - but it's the way I get myself out the door: go home, just bring this one thing, NOT EVERYTHING, just this one thing; working from home is much more comfortable and productive than being in the office anyway, you can have no pants on and cats get in your lap and there is always wine and music and more comfortable chairs and your wife the hot pad! don't you love your wife? DON'T YOU LOVE YOUR WIFE SEVENTHE DON'T YOU

it's a fine compromise that I am actually more than willing to make: the workload never stops, but it's much nicer working from home, PLUS it's much nicer to come home and be able to focus and do a much better job on something. it's nice to come home to an hour of catching up on email, or 45 minutes of pulling data into a report: I don't work all night; it's just small individual tasks I can get done in a low-key and helpful way.

But lately. BUT LATELY: lately, I come home and my brain just won't focus on the work. I have this report about all of the kerfuddlefuckery that has taken my plant down for four weeks already that the CEO asked me to write and I am all yes sir please let me hand-deliver this horrible news to your office, shall I seal it in my blood now or later like I actually do want to write this report and show what we are doing, what we are fixing, what we are facing - what the dumb godsbefucked people before me left to us, what I have sacrificed the last fucking six weeks to defeating which is like running a thousand goddamn marathons all at once on three hours of shitty sleep because I have been up at night worrying about my plant and my people because everything is goddamn fucked right now and -- and anyway, I want to write this report. But I get home and I open it and my brain gives this long-ass, horrible groan-sigh noise just like : reeeeeeeally, Sev, we are going to do this?

I am not going that way. No.


I'm trying, I want to, I'm in a comfy chair with the laptop on my lap right now. Come on, fucker. I just need an hour of your energy and we'll be ok.

well

Dec. 15th, 2012 12:06 pm
seventhe: (Edge/Rydia: no return)
if anyone is left wondering where I went and/or why I fell off the face of the earth, I just got back from the plant (aka Midgar) -- I flew down on Monday, worked some 15-hour shifts, came back late on Thursday, and basically have slept since then, almost straight through.

I'm so behind on everything -- because of life, but this plant trip didn't help. it's fucking 10 days until Christmas, only one week until I head up to my parents' house, and the holidays are kind of like a ten pound load of stress in a five pound bag anyway: plus I still have to work (most of) this week, and I have a ton of shit to finish up before the year ends and the holidays kick in and all, and just: aaaaauuuuuuuuuuuuuggggghhhhhhhhhhh

If you've emailed me and I haven't replied, this is why. If you've commented and I'm ignoring you, this is why. If I don't get to it soon, well, uh, I'm the Avatar. Deal with it

Off to try to be productive~
seventhe: (Life: stress out and die)
1. I have figured out, through some intense reflection during a boring meeting I wasn't involved in but had no chance to escape, that the answers I actually need to manage my project are an entire layer underneath the questions that I have been asking. (WORKCEPTION????) I've been asking for targets; what I actually need is a more clear fundamental understanding of the way work is supposed to flow from conception into production, and the role my project plays in the entire process, where communication goes and where priorities are. There isn't a process, by the way, and that's why I always feel so goddamn lost, and why even asking for clear targets isn't going to fix the mess I'm wading through. I actually need to go deeper.

I've set an appointment with the visiting Overlords on Monday and I plan to basically bang heads against a table with my newfound understanding of the situation I am in until someone cries uncle and gives me what I want.

2. I just emailed my advisor. I am back in the game. Thesis complete and Masters Degree by spring semester 2013.

Because fuck everything.

3. I am super stressed at the moment. :(

4. Icon (DW) has never been more relevant.
seventhe: (Rydia: reversed)
Thanks to everybody for their wise words on yesterday's entry -- this is a very thinky-time for me, and I appreciate all the kindness and the suggestions/advice.

Today I ended up - unplanned - talking to both my boss and his boss about the situation. And there's some tentative hope on the horizon.

I've been reassured, multiple times, that the amount of frustrating stress and overwhelming workload I've been facing on this project is not usual. This is a very new project, but carries stuff from some older projects which were divided out and shut down, so it's a really complicated place to be: I got caught in the middle of a really, really tough situation, combining super aggressive short-term timelines with vague and nebulous future roadmaps, which is why I feel so lost. It involves relationships with four internal branches of the company that don't usually all talk to each other, which is why there are so many meetings. Most of what I'm suffering from isn't indicative of "a project leader", but of being this project's leader in specific.

(Dear management: Thanks. You fucks. Love, Sev)

Even just hearing that this isn't normal was a little reassuring for me. If I'm crumbling under pressure, I like to know that it's super!!!amazeballs!~!!badass pressure, not Everyday Joe Baloney pressure. I feel better that way.

One of the things that has been so frustrating about my current project is that we are working on undefined things without any really clear targets. I'm going to do an analogy here, to try to explain: let's say you work in a kitchen and you have a cookie recipe that's problematic. It's a flavor a lot of your customers want, but you have trouble baking it just right. The Chef Overlords give you this project, and they say, "Develop and improve this cookie recipe." So, okay.

You start looking at your cookie recipe. But no one told you where exactly you are supposed to go improving it. Do you want the cookie to be healthier? To taste better? To be easier to make? To have less expensive ingredients? If you replace one ingredient with another and it improves the taste but is less healthy, is this an okay tradeoff, or no? If you can make the cookie easier to bake, but then it's more expensive, is that okay, or no?

But no one will answer that. You ask the people who sell the cookies, and they say, it has to taste good and be cheap. You ask the people who do maintenance, and they say, it has to be processable, if we can't bake it you don't have a product. You ask the customer, but each one says a different thing, and no one's sure who is actually buying these cookies anyway. You think, well, I'll try to improve all of the things. But first you are not actually made of time, and second there are some trade-offs -- like tastiness vs health, and you don't know how to decide what's a worthwhile balance there.

You ask your Chef Overlords, and they just say, "Improve the cookie." Then they say, "Oh, we want you to look at all our cookies." And there are some cookies made with vanilla, and some with chocolate, and some are gluten-free and some are low-fat and some are bargain cookies and some are designer cookies and some are really simple and some are super complex and they say, "Improve all the cookies."

So you're stuck fumbling around with 8 different directions to go in, and you can't focus your work forward, because any or all of those things could be target improvements - and maybe should - but no one will tell you what's a good range for acceptable trade-off and what's a target range for final product and maybe where you should start first.

That's my project, except that it's worse because there are no cookies here at all.

The first piece of good news: So right now, because I made a really good case / big stink about this at the meeting with the Japanese Overlords, the project is in somewhat of a holding pattern / waiting period, while the Overlords do some internal investigating and discussing and decide what our targets are on both short- and long-term. (I threw a very professional and polite fit and 'refused' to work on a lot of this stuff until we know where it's going, because I feel like we're wasting our time. We spent six months basically looking at a special baking soda until somebody (who wasn't the Overlords, even -- but since the Overlords were having fun with their thumbs up their asses, I decided that any guidance was better than joining the thumbs-up-asses club) decided what they really wanted was tastier chocolate chips, and then we spent six months looking for better chocolate chips before this somebody changed their minds again and said, fuck, we do still want the better baking soda, the chocolate chip taste may not be important and actually what we really want is not better tasting chocolate chips, but ones that don't melt.

Fuck. My. Life.)

The first bit of this decision is deliverable to me by September, according to our agreement. So for the next ~3 months, possibly longer, I get a bit of a break, because there is a lot of work that will be put "on hold" until we have some targets with which we can prioritize and determine direction.

The second piece of good news is, my boss has put things in motion for me to get a co-op of my own, hired by me, working specifically for me, in my lab. And not just a co-op, he is working to get a co-op position installed there, meaning when one co-op goes back to school I will have hired another to take his place, and I will basically always have a set of hands to support me, until I move on to other responsibilities.

The baddish news is that that won't be able to happen until January, because it's the end of the school year and most engineering students who want to co-op have already lined one up.

The goodish news is that if the workload actually decreases for the next couple months, I think I can survive until January. And if the workload ramps back up at the end of the year, by January I'll have a co-op to help me with some of it.

Sure, it isn't an immediate solution. And I need to have a more serious talk with my boss about my Masters degree and this workload in general. Before I continue to commit myself to this job, for example, I'd like to make sure I don't get handed a SURPRISE!!!!COOKIE!DISASTER project every two years, or there will be no vodka left in the world. But as for right now I really do feel like maybe there are some paths out I can take to help deal with all of this shit a little bit better.

One other thing I realized today is that I need to learn to delegate better. I need to stop looking at things other people have done and deciding that I could do them better and that that means I should just do them so that it's done right the first time. I need to stop claiming lots of work for myself because I want to do it my way. I need to learn to better trust people, and let them work on things in their own way -- and if I think they're fucking up, I need a better way to deal with it other than ripping it out of their hands and finishing it myself. (Sadly, sometimes this is the easiest way to do it, because I work with a lot of equally stubborn assholes who think they're right - this is Research - which means they don't listen to me; doubly so because I don't have a ~sacred PhD~.) Even if it takes more time, even if it seems like more work having to redirect and guide people, I need to learn how to do it. I need to learn to let go. I need to learn that even if someone else doesn't do something 100% perfectly, that maybe 85% is actually okay. I'm very invested in a lot of the things I do and I need to take a couple steps back.

The problem here is a) I am a control freak; b) I don't work well with others (despite the surprising trust of my management) and I don't like talking to people; and c) I actually legitimately don't trust about half of the people I work with, because they are either c1) idiots or c2) ambitious backstabbing assheads. But I need to find a system I can work with, and learn to delegate more.

But, yeah.

Why

Jun. 20th, 2012 06:59 pm
seventhe: (Auron: I'd hit that)
...the fuck have I forgotten about Criminal Minds for so long. This show is so good.

LIFE

Jun. 13th, 2012 07:44 am
seventhe: (Irvine: blur)
I am off to a 4 hour meeting which is actually a pre-meeting - "preparation meeting" - for the five days worth of meetings I have this week and next (Thurs, Fri, Mon, Tues, Wed).

The logic is infallible

Forgive me if I drown myself in a coffee cup this morning
seventhe: (Cats: I LIKE THEM)
Cities/States I was in: 9/8 (Akron, OH --> Denver, CO --> Boise, ID --> Las Vegas, NV --> Tusayan (Grand Canyon), AZ --> Las Vegas, NV --> Phoenix, AZ --> Houston, TX --> Lake Charles, LA --> Houston, TX --> Detroit, MI --> Akron, OH)
Different time zones I inhabited: 4
Flights: 7
Drives: 4

In a 14-day period:
- Longest time period in any one time zone: 3 days
- Days on this trip I had to be up at 4 am: 3 (ugh)
- Days I actually got to sleep in: 1
- Days spent hermiting in a hotel room during which I spoke to no one except the Chinese food delivery person: 1
- Days that were technically vacation that I checked my email and worked: 5/7

Suitcase weight: 50 lb
Specific styles of dress contained in suitcase: 6 (formal dress for wedding; casual nice for rehearsal dinner; casual and hot for Vegas; hiking clothes for Grand Canyon; one business casual for plant visit; working casual for plant days)
Computing power brought: 3 pieces (laptop for work; iPad for DOINK; iPhone)

- - -

I won't call it a vacation. I'll call it a trip. It was fun, but it wasn't relaxing. But it was fun. The wedding was gorgeous, Vegas was fun, the Grand Canyon was amazing, and the week of work blew ass like I expected. XD

Maybe I'll put up some photos or something.

I am terrified to go to work tomorrow. Even though I've been checking my email and following work, I know I'm still behind because I haven't been in the office for two weeks. And the biannual meeting with the Japanese Overlords starts Thursday. UGHHHHHHHHHHHH

No wonder I've been playing so much FFXIII. I am in hiding mode.
seventhe: (FFEX: Doink!)
I'm always surprised at how many hours there actually are in a day.

I really shouldn't be, because I've experienced this phenomenon once before, when I was still working my full-time long-day 40-hr-week job and also attending a 20-30-hr-week graduate lab class: if you literally spend every spare minute you have doing something, it's a lot of work. (And I mean it. Sometimes I see people posting, "I'm soooo busy~!" but if I've seen you posting 10K in fic in the last week, or reblogging tons of stuff on Tumblr, or otherwise hobbying-- maybe you're busy, but that isn't actually spending every legitimate moment you have on work-like things. I realize this makes me a judgmental ass and I'm sorry.)

But really, I'm still continually surprised at how much you can actually work in one day. Because I have basically spent every free hour I have had in the last 7 days helping to basically remodel a basement which is my responsibility to fix. I don't even have time to tell you everything handyman that I've done. But I'm just still for whatever reason surprised at how BUSY you can actually get. When you come home from work at 6:15 and change and eat and then drive up to the house at 7:00 and work until 11:00 and then come home and make a lunch and do the dishes and go to bed at 12 and get up at 6:30 and go to work at 7:30 and then do it all over again, for an entire week? I mean it, there is busy and then there is, "life sat on me." They aren't even really in the same order of magnitude.

Had I known the level of fucked this problem was, I wouldn't have started it now. But you don't know what's under the carpet until you pull up the carpet.

I thought I was busy before. Turns out, there were plenty of hours in my day that could be filled up with things that make me miserable.

I am stressed as fuck, I have gotten absolutely nothing done this week, my exchange ends this weekend, I am leaving tomorrow afternoon and I have not yet finished packing. This week has been just awful.

Some day I will turn this experience into a "Handyman How-To" post because I've actually learned a lot of fun shit. Today is not that day.

- - -

I just printed out all my itineraries and reservations and flight info and blah blah and it's basically a short novel, I've killed a tree doing it, it weighs more than my laptop, etc etc.

This trip-- I am not even looking forward to it. i'll be honest. Work is so awful right now, and there are a bunch of due dates WHILE I AM GONE, so I have to work ON my trip, and just. ugh ugh ugh first world problems etc but.

I carry my stress in my shoulders and neck, and I nearly can't drive a car right now. I am pretty sure my back is about to leave me for another woman.

Whirlwind tour of the US is as follows:
- to Boise this weekend for my cousin's wedding
- fly to Vegas Mon with family, night in Vegas
- drive to Grand Canyon Tues, two nights in GC
-- work due Wednesday, have to work Mon and Tues to submit Wed
- return to Vegas on Thurs, night in Vegas
- Fri, fly directly to Houston, spend weekend weeping in a pillow fort
- Sun, pick up Japanese BFF at airport and head off to the plant
- Mon, tour of plant with guest
- Tues-Wed, work at the plant
-- work due Tues, will have to work the previous week to compile it
- Thurs, return home

- THE FOLLOWING MONDAY, submit a report of the work I did on the plant trip to the Overlords because
- THAT WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY, our biannual meeting with the Overlords begins

- probably every day forever: cry into beer, from stress and frustration

- date of freedom: 20 June
- 21 June: lose self in Diablo III for three consecutive days

I am trying for serenity now and I'm not sure I'll make it. OH GOOD. When can I give up on everything and be a crazy cat lady hermit hobo who never goes anywhere?

ON THE PLUS SIDE, I now have an app on my phone that can send a postcard photo from anywhere for $0.99, so if you want a really dumb postcard from Vegas or the Grand Canyon, email me your address.

ADDITIONALLY ON THE PLUS SIDE, I've written 4 Korra drabbles in the past few days. On my phone. While in meetings or otherwise working. Seeing as I haven't written a thing since December, this is cool.

I HAD ANOTHER PLUS but I have forgotten it so.

WHINES

May. 17th, 2012 02:22 pm
seventhe: (MAC Batman)
THINGS I HATED IN SCHOOL: GROUP PROJECTS

THINGS BEING A PROJECT LEADER IS LIKE: FUCKING GROUP PROJECTS

Sure, I can edit your 10 slides down to 5 and fix all of your typos

why not



that's certainly what they pay me for

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