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: (SAZH)
...but I am, in fact, still here.

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.
seventhe: (Sorceresses)
For the record, I'm trying to post more; I've got a lot on my mind recently, and I've got a journal for a reason. I'm also trying to reply to comments more, which is something I'm bad at - I mostly reply via phone-Gmail*, at work, and it can be hard to keep up with. But anyway, I'm trying to post more consistently. For fun. And profit.

One of the things that has been dwelling on my mind lately is ... Well. I work hard. For the past 5 years I've been working doubletime, putting in 40 hours a week of a job and then grad school on top of that, plus I fill up the rest of my time with shit: running, races, taking care of people, bands, practices, exchanges, writing, commitments, hobbies, cons, cosplay, and an exhausting social life. As much as I joke about being a lazy fuck I'm not really sure I know how to 'take it easy' for more than a day or two; I just do stuff, I tend to do stuff, and I end up being busy by default. My job is both hard and a lot of work (they aren't always the same thing), and grad school is the same -- and even if the other things aren't 'work' and aren't 'necessary', they're still commitments, and they aren't 'taking it easy' either.

Nobody should be surprised to hear that I still feel burnt out, this year; my constant chorus of I'm exhausted should be familiar by now. I've been burning this candle at every available end for years. But I have this awful dichotomy warring in my brain about "deserving a break", and it's getting confusing.

What do you have to do to 'deserve' a break? I'll look at my shit some days and be like, gurl, all you did today was work your usual 11 hour day. You don't deserve a night off. You still have to run, and then cook, and then clean up at least half of it, and fold the laundry. Or I'll look at my week and be like, All you did was work and run and the usual chores. You didn't do anything extraordinary. You don't deserve a break. You still have shit to do! And I'll fill up my hours and my days with that to-do list that doesn't end.

And then on other days I will get to the point where I am like christ in a chevy, I am exhausted and I deserve a break and I am taking one so fuck the world, and I'll do something like drink an entire bottle of wine alone in my apartment while drunk-texting everyone I know and reading horrible fanfiction, or I'll spend an entire day knitting while watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or I'll skip working out for an entire week and just lie on the floor instead. And I don't really feel all that much better or feel relaxed; I feel like a giant waste of space because that's what I was. It's a little better, but it's a useless better. Like I feel like I'm entitled to deliberately spend a day doing things that don't mean shit just to prove that I can, because I can, because I am stubborn and want to waste time like everybody else does and no one can tell me I can't, especially myself.

It's like I don't know how to moderate. It's either all or nothing. And thinking back I actually don't even think it's that bad in reality, but my perception of it is: in my head it feels like all or nothing, on or off. I don't know how to hit a happy medium and realize it; I don't know how to feel like I'm compromising. If it isn't all or nothing, my brain makes it so.

And underneath all of that is the fact that I've been working for basically over 15 years straight now, and yet I still feel like I don't 'deserve' a really big break until I finish my fucking graduate degree.

But I think about all the shit that I want to do - I would like to write some fucking novels; I would like to (re)learn to draw; I would like to take more pictures; I would like to actually travel - and first I go, okay, let's do(u) it and then I go, oh god, more things, when do I get a break?

So that's what's on my mind. I need a better system to deal with both relaxing and getting my shit done. Blah blah blah whine more.


*I'm only moderately content with Gmail's iPhone app. It's decent, but not ideal. And I moderately dislike Apple's/iPhone's default email interface. Any iPhone users who use a different mail app that they adore?
seventhe: (EDWARD/EDWARD = TRUE LOVE)
My boss is doing what he can to help solve my problems here at work. A longer and more hilarious version later, but for now:

  1. I am no longer allowed to come in for meetings on Fridays, because I do not work on Fridays. If anyone truly wants me at a meeting on a Friday, they have to go through my boss so that I can have permission to change my work schedule. This is not only to scare off people who don't want to deal with my (admittedly terrifying) boss, but to also help me feel less guilty about not being able to attend an important Friday meeting. I love how this man deals with me.

  2. I am being heavily encouraged to start saying no to any other meetings I do not think are necessary, and if someone disagrees with my judgment, they are to go through my boss.

  3. I am also allowed to put batch work aside if I feel that meetings - ones that encourage communication and collaboration and my project and other actual work things - are more valuable at the time. He and I both expect this to be the case for the next ~6 months -- which doesn't alleviate my meeting schedule, but it does cut the weight of the other project work I have had sitting on my shoulders by a good bit. I should not feel guilty about only attending meetings if they are actually helpful and productive - meetings are work too.

  4. I have been encouraged to selectively accept collaborative work from certain people (who will actually further my project's goals) and not from others (who may be giving it to me simply because then they know it will get done, rather than actual relevance to my project). These lines have been - rather humorously - clarified by my boss.


We still haven't worked out the Overlord Issues yet (I'm not sure I even bothered to post about the upset two weeks ago which basically completely contradicted the directions I was given six weeks ago, threw my entire schedule and project sheet into upheaval, and put a recurring biweekly meeting on my calendar every other Monday for the rest of my life -- at that point I might have just given up posting about everything), but he's at least aware of it, so while I have no more authority than I did previously (already in the negatives), I have increased awareness, and actually increased motivation to stop giving a fuck and just do things whether I have the authority to or not. Forgiveness and permission, etc.

The down side to all of this was that it was bartered on condition of me finishing my fucking thesis and getting my stupid Masters, so now I get to fill up all of the time this gives me back with godsbefucked grad school. I fucking hate school so much. But maybe I can be done with it, soon, and try to have a life that involves a reasonable bit of actual relaxation and shit.

I have to say, though. Completely platonically and in a way that is as non-creepy as love from Sev gets: I officially adore my boss more than anyone else in the world.

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