Christmas.

Dec. 28th, 2013 09:13 am
seventhe: (Joie)
The first Christmas with the baby was beautiful. Hectic and crazy and not really relaxing, but refreshing in a way. I got up work-time Monday morning and drove in to Pittsburgh to pick up Gramma, then drove up to Buffalo to the tune of a Spotify Christmas station which worked for the most part but occasionally wondered if what we really wanted to be listening to was the Electric Slide.

Jim and Mar and Jos were already up there. This was the crazy hectic part: Josie's ~10 weeks; Gramma's 90; and I'm not sure which of them cried and wet themselves more. Both needed intense help. I love my little niece to pieces and am always happy to pick her up and bounce and BOOP her and walk her around, and I adore my gramma and am willing to help her stand and walk or carry on a conversation. The two overlaid upon each other occasionally makes it hard to breathe.

That's the refreshing part, though: there's something about being surrounded by these people you love so hard it hurts, and even in the middle of the chaos when all you want is a nap you know for a fact that you'd do anything for any one of them. I'm continuously amazed at how much I love a niece who has only been in my life for three short months. Jos has a great smile. I hear that's how babies survive.

Christmas Day was a gratuitously decadent celebration of gifts and ribbons and glitter.

I'm back in the Feymarch because I had to work yesterday. As often happens at this time of year I'm incredibly pensive about my life - more so this year since it's been so dramatic. I want to write about it, but not yet, so instead I'm going to play Final Fantasy Tactics until noon with no regrets.
seventhe: (FFEX: In the shadows)
I don't know what it is about being alone that makes me want to clean -- not just clean, I guess, but organize: re-organize, re-do. Unfuck. I really don't know why this mood can't hit me more often, and what it is about somebody else in the house that just mental-blocks me from having the motivation to go through the year's bills and sort them -- which is what I'm doing, with assistance from the world's floofiest and "most unloved" cat -- but there's something there. Who knows! I've got Ellie Goulding on and I'm sorting through things in my room and on my desk and feeling awesomely productive. My goal is to have my desk totally revamped and my computer set up by the time Becky gets back. We'll see.

solitude... and no plans... makes a Sev very happy.

The snap, crackle, and pop is brought to you by my lungs: that's the noise they're making every time I breathe in and breathe out. It's quite foul. And scary. Enough people have told me that I look/sound horrible and that I'm going to end up in the hospital soon that... I think I'm deluding myself as to how sick I actually am, just because other parts of me feel "okay".

I'm spending this entire weekend inside, and will be spending much of it in bed or otherwise resting -- today's spurt of activity surely won't last, and I really, really, really want to be over this by Monday.

So I'm spending a weekend alone in my apartment, being productive and resting in equal measure.

This is awesome. Yay introvert's happiness level.
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: (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.

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