Hiatus is a Good Word

I’ve thought about this little blog a lot lately. When I started writing here I needed an outlet for creativity and emotional venting. Also for pondering aloud. 

So much has happened to me since the summer. I said goodbye to daycare due to my kids outgrowing it. I got laid off of my 10-year cube job that I both hated and needed. I decided to sell off our rental house and therefore had to evict my friends who lived there. Then I broke my wrist in early October and am still in a cast. It’s a pretty purple colour but it prevents me from using my left arm very much and I happen to be left handed. 

Much soul searching ensued but not as much as when I was still a full time employee. I was neither sad nor happy about my sudden freedom. Mostly I wondered how I should feel, same as I have after many life events. Divorce springs to mind as one of the more discombobulating experiences that had a similar affect on my daily life. 

Luckily I hired a good lawyer and received a generous severance. Luckily I make money through our basement rental and luckily Husband’s biz is going like gangbusters. 

Yes I need to find a new vocation/focus/activity to keep me productive but until this arm cast comes off and the rental house is finally ready for sale I’m just helping Husband with his work, keeping the house functioning, and enjoying the lack of career expectations. I might work in a cube again if I have to, but only on a contract basis. It’s nice to have that as a fall back plan but I hope I never have to use it.

Meanwhile my midgets get older and I continue to encourage their independence. Boy is a moody 14 and is currently enduring ninth grade. Girl is a young lady, very social and industrious. We 3 are all still very close and I’m doing my level best to stay that way. 

Linked In immediately became irrelevant to my life. So did travel, to some extent. I no longer have a life I need to escape, and so my travel itch has diminished considerably. I’m fucking content, and that surprises me most of all. 

  

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It’s Ok to Hate Your Job

Courtesy of Reddit:

Somone I trust and lookup to told me the other day at breakfast that I should write a book on my experiences and how I got off my ass and helped myself. I laughed and said I knew I didn’t have that kind of focus or care to write.

Even this post I’m just dictating into my computer mostly. But I did want to share this with you because it helped me.

You hate your job. You try to pretend like you don’t but you do. You get in the car every morning, with your coffee in hand, and take a deep breath. Right there, in the quiet of your front seat, you have the same conversation with yourself day after day. It goes like this:

“You can do this. Just one day. You can make it through.”

Of course, you know that. You know you can make it through the day. You’ve been “making it” through days for months now, even years, by repeating this very same routine, this coffee and breathing and driving and numbing and “you can make it” routine.

But is this what life is supposed to feel like? Like you’re just “making it” through?

Does everyone feel this way? I fucking did and I hated it. Thankfully I was fired for my diminishing performance at work.

Chances are, you’ve worked a handful of jobs and most of them have felt this way. In the beginning you think, “great opportunity,” or “exactly what I need for now” or even, optimistically, “this one is going to be different.” There’s always such a freshness and excitement and urgency and enthusiasm when you begin something new.

But then, after a few weeks, or maybe months if you can hold out, this old familiar feeling starts to sink in: Exhaustion, depression, loss of motivation, the fear that you’re just pushing papers or running TPS reports or barking at a room full of students to calm down. The feeling you have to drag yourself out of bed in the morning.

What about the thing you want to be doing? The thing that gets you out of bed in the morning and keeps you up at night? Why can’t you get paid to do that?

Never mind, you give up. Nobody really loves their job. Do they?

You worry it must be you.

It must be an attitude problem, or a gratitude problem, or maybe you were just born lazy or entitled. Maybe it’s because you live in a rich country, or because you grew up in a rich family, or because you grew up in a poor family and you always wished things could be different. Maybe this is a “first world problem.”

At least you have a job, you tell yourself. Some people don’t even have that.

I’m writing to tell you it’s okay.

It’s okay to hate your job, and it’s okay to want a new one. It’s normal. You’re normal. You don’t have to hide it or feel guilty anymore and you don’t have to talk yourself out of it. What you want is saying something. It’s trying to tell you something. It’s a special message for you from deep inside your gut.

Don’t ignore it.

When you’re hungry, your body tells you by sending signals to your brain. Your stomach growls. You crave something. Your mouth waters. You respond by giving it food.

What your body craves isn’t always best for you. Anyone who has dieted knows this. Sometimes our bodies are addicted to sugar, or to fat, or to salt, or even to chemicals, and we have to recognize and intervene and feed it something different than what it craves. But we don’t do this because hunger is bad. We do this because we know what’s best for our body.

Because what we really want is to be healthy, to have more energy, to live longer, to lose weight.

The worst thing you could do, when your stomach growls, is give it no food at all.

Don’t ignore your hunger.

Instead, ask yourself what you really want.

What do you really want out of life? What is the most important? You can’t have it all, so you have to prioritize, but it’s okay to want stuff. It’s okay to want a different job, a different city, a different job, a different way of life. Different wants crop up in different seasons (career, family, marriage, friendship, healing, etc.) but wants always help us to zoom in and focus and feel thankful and see progress and find meaning in our life.

So, what do you want right now? What matters most?

If you woke up this morning and are dreading your job, listen up. You’re normal. This is normal. It can be hard to find meaning in what you do, no matter your job title. But it is possible. Everyone doesn’t hate their job. And it’s not irresponsible for you to ask yourself the questions you need to ask to find work you love. (Like, what do you want?) You may discover you need a new job. You may find you simply need a change of perspective.

Either way, what your feeling is not bad or wrong. In fact, it might be trying to tell you something important.

Don’t ignore it.

 

I can’t handle a bunch of screaming pre-teen girls

I can’t handle having a house full of kids for a sleepover, and it takes a lot of convincing for me to agree to having more than 1 extra kid at a time. So when girl midget approaches me about having a slumber party (was there ever an event more poorly named?), my initial reaction is NO. Inevitably, I’m asked Why Not, because what possible objection could I have for not having 5 pre-teens in my home for a sleepover?! God, Mom, we’ll just take over your living, dining, and kitchen, never sleep a wink, scream regularly, and make a terrible mess for which we will feel no responsibility to clean up. But mostly, I can’t adequately explain my No to my child.

How can a child understand clinical depression when most adults don’t either? It’s much more than being sad. It’s like an ever-present inertia, and I’m trying to force a gigantic cruise ship do a sharp 90 degree right turn. I never succeed in that turn, but I turn the ship enough to stay on course. I hold onto the wheel with all of my force, make the turn, then loosen my grip a little. Bit by bit, I loosen my grip, veering off course slightly but still generally going in the right direction. Soon after that, I find myself too far off my path and I have to make another dramatic turn to: get myself to work, work at my job, clean the kitchen, get the laundry started, walk the dogs, scour the bathroom, and do anything besides sitting or laying down, staring at a tv, a wall, my phone, or a book. I doubt my midgets would be able to understand that analogy. I’m not sure I understand it. I’ve felt this way for so long that it feels unfortunately normal. I talked to my doctor last week about all of this and nothing came of that discussion. So….I guess I have to keep pushing for a remedy? Depressed people are not good at pushing, not most of the time. Sporadically, yes, but not when I’m in a lull.

Little things help perk me up: an iced coffee, a walk with my dogs (if I can get myself out of the house), quiet time with one of my midgets, dinner with husband, working on a crochet project with a well-written pattern, surveying my tidy home that I just cleaned, or creating a vegan food item that looks and tastes good, and is eaten by members of my household.

I’m Super Grumpy. So effing what?

This morning I walked my dogs 3 kms, returned home, got ready for work and then rode my bike to work another 7.5 kms. (Don’t be too impressed. I still look all of my 44 years and not in a 44-is-the-new-34 sort of way) During my trudging, I listened to the Monday Morning pod cast, produced each week by Bill Burr. He is a grumpy comedian, my favourite kind. I’m reveling in my sour mood because I’m not at this moment able to do anything else about it. I might as well relax and accept what is.

I am also a big fan of Mom of 4 is Tired. It’s honest, funny, and relatable. And she is often grumpy too, or at least a little pessimistic about the state of her world. My sister in arms, basically.

Keep yourself entertained today and don’t think about the suffering in the world and all the children and animals who are in peril and how much your job sucks that you’re lucky to have, and how messy your house is, and how you have no idea what food to assemble for dinner because it’s all so overwhelming. And don’t think about how wonderful your kids are and marvel they turned out so well (so far) given how much neglect they have probably (but hopefully not) suffered because of your own depression and other shit.

Amy Schumer is another one to watch. Check out this little skit on pious dog owners.

 

How I Embraced the Cubicle and…who’s kidding who? I hate this shit.

Lately I’ve been called upon to be a personal cheerleader for a co-worker/friend. Usually it’s me who hates being here, marking time and providing necessities of life to my family unit. Last week and the week before that I was home a lot with sick children, and I determined I don’t want to be a stay at home mom (sahm) even if it’s an option, which for me it is not. I don’t know if sahm dissatisfaction is linked to my fear of being ‘unproductive’ or becoming a 1-dimensional drain on our family’s resources, but I definitely felt bored by the end of that period. I don’t even want to use word unhappy to describe myself. That word feels too strong for my malaise and too weak for the stirring I feel inside me that wants to burst out of my chest.

Last week and this week, my friend Anne is going through a phase where she feels unrewarded at work, meaning she feels her work doesn’t make a difference in the world. Normally she feels satisfied by her projects and is content to bang out documents as required. I reject the idea that if she was better paid she would be happier. Same for the notion that her working for a different company in a different cube would provide her with a solution.

This week on the Bill Burr Monday Morning Podcast, Bill puts cube workers on blast and asks rhetorically if anyone hoped as a kid that one day they would be dealing with spreadsheets and other paperwork in an office setting. My answer to that is Yes, I did. The idea of having inside work that is clean and uses my brain was very appealing to this farmer’s daughter. No longer would the weather determine my productivity that day, and I predicted I would receive regular praise for my brilliant ideas and Protestant work ethic. Sure, I’ve experienced this, but now my dreams have changed. Now I want some freedom to explore my new interests and make money while producing meaningful services or products to the public at large. I’ve never wanted to be famous or outrageously rich, so my humble goal should be simple enough to achieve.

My hypothesis for Anne is that, no matter what office she works in, she will ultimately be unsatisfied because she will not be doing work she really wants to do. What does she want to do? She doesn’t know yet and that’s causing her mental discomfort. I was at that point last year, and by now I’ve come to the realization that my discomfort is ok and doesn’t need to be resolved at the moment. I don’t know what I want to do next, and that’s ok. This is the idea I’m trying to convey to my good friend; it’s ok if we don’t know what to do yet because someday we will.

I’ve been listening to many podcasts lately and some of them pertain to entrepreneurs. Sometimes I’ll hear a good sound bite and I try to remember it. Keep in mind I’m always riding my bike while listening to these, so I haven’t a pen and paper nearby to jot down these ideas.

“People put more value on entrepreneurs than they do 9-5ers”

It’s true generally the entrepreneur is glamorized, while the ‘wage slave’ is not.

“We eat at TGIFridays, not TGIMondays.”

Weekends are what we live for, supposedly. But no one’s tweeting about the crappy parts of making a living as a guest speaker or consultant. Mostly all we see are photos of beaches or mountains with the caption, “This is my office today.” What about a photo of a bland hotel room and a picture of a squished cereal bar that will serve as dinner that night? Not so glamorous but much more relatable. That tidbit was provided by Kevin Kostella, who creates The Freedom Lovin Podcast.

I’d like to think I’ve got my eyes wide open about the prospect of being a business owner, not that I have a business in mind yet. One inspiring site is My Wife Quit Her Job. This man blogs about his family’s transition from a typical dual income household of working for other people, to running an incredibly successful online store. His wife was working at a 6-figure job and hated it. She hated it so much that her sadness and anger filtered up to her family life, making Sunday evenings just awful. A solution had to be reached, and so together they found one.

Husband and I periodically but regularly discuss what else I could be doing to earn income for our family besides working in a cube in an office building. We have some ideas but nothing is without risk and all of the ideas take time and effort. I’m willing to devote time and effort in this case but not as much if I am not guaranteed success. Or practically guaranteed. I suppose that’s what holding me back.

 

Hey There, Lonely Girl

Husband works very long hours and has done for years, getting his business off the ground and making it a success. I’ve been genuinely supportive of his efforts and very rarely complain about this. I know it’s for a good cause and he loves what he does for a living. His happiness colours his relationships and outlook. However, In practical terms this means I am alone a lot. I take care of the house inside and out. My kids are my kids and not his, so him not being around shouldn’t be a problem, except when it is. Having a loving union is very important to me as an adult and as a parent.

When is it going to be my turn? Right now I’m a stereotypical quiet strong woman behind a successful man. I’m just as smart as he is, and just as ambitious. I’m delighted by his success; his accomplishments are mine too. Is there room for 2 people in a marriage to achieve success? I’m an ordinary person who doesn’t want fame and is not willing to work 18-hour days to achieve whatever I’ve decided is my goal, because I’m not willing to sacrifice time with my midgets, husband, dogs, beach, home, and tranquility. I’m not that kind of ambitious.

I’m a scaredy cat when it comes to taking financial risks. I’ve made mistakes before and I’m determined not to do that again and so my cautious nature wins out most of the time. And yet, I’d like the chance to find a work situation that I love. Luckily, husband is supportive of me and soon it will be my time to challenge my norm. Soon.

 

I Need the Motivator from Wipeout

If I could get that installed at my house, I could better propel myself out the front door of my house.

My jobs in the morning are: let dogs out for a pee; take my pills; get midgets up out of bed (sure, they have alarm clocks, but that doesn’t mean they will heed them, so I’m their backup, their plan B); monitor the progress of the aforementioned midgets, offering solutions to problems such as forms that need to be signed, swimming stuff to find, and a distinct lack of socks all while keeping an eye on the clock; get myself ready for work, the effort of which varies depending on the dirtiness of my hair; feed dogs (because if I feed them as soon as I get out of bed, they wake me up earlier and earlier every day); kiss girl midget good-bye; take dogs for a walk; and go to work. Would I want my midgets to be more independent? I used to think Yes, but I’m glad to be included in their daily routines. This involvement keeps us connected.

I can (usually) get myself out of bed easily enough, and I crank some tunes via Songza to get my mood to a happy state. It’s the leaving of the house that presents a problem, one that would be solved by The Motivator. For now, the warmer weather is my metaphorical Motivator, and for now that’s good enough.

I’ve been riding my bike to work and that’s providing some joy. Always people wonder why I bike on busy streets instead of the bike path. The bike path is boring. The landscape is homogenous, the wind is formidable, and there are no flower shops, bakeries, or traffic lights to break up the windy monotony.

The warm weather has also quieted down the plaintive whining in my head that appears during the winter to wonder why in hell I live in such a cold climate. So there’s that.

The Balancing Act of Buying Airline Tickets

Duration vs. Price vs. Number of Stops

And if there is a long layover (13 hours or more), hotel costs have to factor into the overall price. And don’t forget how to get to the hotel when all of the travellers are already feeling bedraggled, having risen at 5 am to get to the airport. The adrenaline rush associated with travel has long since worn off, probably at the precise moment the airline ‘meal’ arrived at your fold-down table. Yes I know, creating edible food for the masses is extremely difficult. Still. Ick.  But we are always hungry by that point (and don’t know what the next meal will contain or when it will be available) and so we always eat what we are served.

Add to this the general confusion at the in-between airport, where we need to find the next gate, and get through security for that gate (take off shoes, put all belongings onto a conveyor belt to be x-rayed, submit our passports and possibly dignity if we need a personal pat-down by security). It’s no small process. At the airport in Frankfurt we were very worried about making our connecting flight, AND we were each patted down. I had a female pat-ter, but I still didn’t appreciate having my genitals touched a few times during that process. I was wearing yoga pants, so I’m not sure what they thought I could have concealed there.

At this point, I’m looking at long layovers on our way to our destination because non-stop flights are way too expensive. This situation leads me to explore what airport lounges might be available at our in-between airports. This is not to say we qualify, but sometimes you can purchase a day pass. I was excited when google turned up this gem. But one can expect only so much from an airport lounge. There are comforts available there such as refreshments, wifi, and nice chairs (which probably recline and don’t have armrests that restrict leaning over to one side), but there is definitely NO SLEEPING allowed in any of them. This means we would need a hotel nearby to rest for about 10 hours. This means we would have to take our carry-ons on quite a journey (reminds me of The Mission) through the huge airport (because they are all huge, being hubs and all), into a taxi, and to a hotel to check in. However, I suppose we aren’t adding any security clearances to our trip, as we would have to go through security even if we stay at the airport.

It’s pretty frightening to me when I read articles saying how insecure our airports are, considering all of the scrutiny all travelers endure.

I draw the line at 2 stops per direction. Or I try to. If the connections have good spacing (~2 hours seems to be good), and the ticket price reflects this inconvenience, I can sell it to husband and the troops. If there is a single layover for a very long (more than 10 hours and some daytime hours included), maybe the city is interesting enough to squeeze in a meal or museum in between flights. The worst layover seems to be 5 hours. That time is not enough to leave the airport, and is too long to be happy about hanging around a building in which all the diversions (stores or food) are barely passable and oh-my-god expensive.

Before I book airline tickets I look at dozens of web sites and perform hundreds of searches for nearby airports on various dates to see what our best options are. Basically I’m what a travel agent used to be before the great unwashed (including me) each got personal computers and discovered travel web sites.

I have read lots of articles on how to get the best prices – travel on a Tuesday or Wednesday, accept long layovers, watch carefully for sales, adjust your travel dates, etc. etc. Recently I read an Ask Me Anything on Reddit from a travel agent who says clearing one’s cookies before performing a search (or search while in Incognito Mode) is not necessary; the fluctuations in prices are due to there being hundreds of thousands of people searching at the same time you are, and some of those people booking tickets or cancelling them.

The search continues…

It’s Barely Spring and I’m Thinking Summer

When you want your kids to have all the advantages afforded to them at their age, you have to be prepared to think ahead. For Summer soccer leagues, sign up is in March or April. When you want your child to attend Summer camp, you have to register in March or April too.

With just 8 weeks of summer here, the time gets filled up quickly. And yet? We still have to keep the kiddos occupied for the full 8 weeks while we adults are gone all day. This presents a challenge for many, because camps aren’t cheap. They aren’t even comparable to regular child care costs. Are camps and childcare worth it? Yes indeedy. But even if you can afford 6 weeks of camp (I’m making a big assumption here that most parents can afford to take 2 weeks off every summer but I could be wrong.), the camps fill up and might not be available. And if the camps are available, hopefully they occur on the same weeks as your child caregiver is taking holiday, otherwise you have to pay twice.

When your kid is under 10, they will pretty much attend any camp you drop them off at. It’s much more nerve-wracking for you than it is for them. Kids older than that seem to have opinions and preferences and put up resistance to attending camps that they deem boring/uninteresting or friends aren’t attending. Yes that’s right! You have to coordinate with other parents to make sure our darlings are in the same camps at the same time. Before you can coordinate, you have to find out phone numbers or email addresses using the least reliable courier service ever: your kids.

All of this to say – my summer is nearly already mapped out from the first week of April. During the weeks where there is no camp and no adult around, my midgets will be working at husband’s store part-time. Busy midgets are happy midgets.

You Know You’re White…Right?

This is the comment I hear very often, because I sometimes use the following phrases:

  • Dolla Dolla Bill, y’all
  • Takin’ Care ‘a Bidness
  • Ah-ight
  • Mashallah
  • Zei Gezunt
  • Menches Kint

No, these are not the most professional words to use, but that’s why I’m not in management. I have a lot of freedoms not afforded to people who have an image to uphold. I’m not naive enough to think my off-kilter sense of humour doesn’t affect others’ perception of me, but then again, even if I was a ‘proper’ serious person, I sincerely believe I would be in the same professional position as I am now. My skill set is mostly measured upon the words I smith and deadlines I meet.

I’m a white Christian who married a Jew, who lives in a multi-cultural city and works in an office with many different ethnicities. My weekday lunch time foods are atypical compared to what I grew up eating. It makes sense for me to have varied phrases in my vocabulary, but even I laugh at myself when I say to my very Jewish brother-in-law on a Friday afternoon: Good Shabbas.