scarlettina: (Default)
It's like clockwork around here: Labor Day comes and Mother Nature flicks a switch. Though Seattle summers are usually mild, this year, we're going from scorching hot days to cooler temps and now the rains have come. They started yesterday and continue today; I think we've seen the last of the sun for a while.

I'm not quite ready for autumn. I haven't changed over my wardrobe; I suppose that happens this week and weekend. Last night I changed my blanket from summer- to winter-weight. I don't have quite the right shoes for this weather; the boots that I've worn for three years now have got holes in them--perhaps not the quality I thought they were when I bought them.

And Rosh Hashannah is bearing down upon us with me, once again, not having tickets for services anywhere because I don't belong to a synagogue and because it's the busiest time of year for me at work. (Most synagogues don't know what to do with me anyway; they're set up for families, not for independent Women of a Certain Age.) I failed to get tickets for services at UW's Hillel, which I've done before. I live within walking distance of the local Chabad House (the only congregation in town that doesn't require a donation for High Holiday tickets), but I wasn't brought up Orthodox. And though their outreach is friendly and welcoming, I'm a little intimidated by the prospect of what will surely be a less-than-egalitarian approach to services. I'm not the sitting-in-the-back-row type. And so I'm once again a little bereft at this time of year.

And, as mentioned above, it's the busiest time of year at work, which means I've got tons of work to do, oftentimes overseen by a million managers, all of whom want to have check-in meetings to ensure the work is getting done. Which means talking to my actual manager about the irony of negotiating the work needing to be done versus attending meetings to report on said work. I can meet or I can execute; I can't do both effectively simultaneously. This year, it seems like it's worse than it's ever been. I keep putting off or declining meetings, and the managers who run said meetings want just five minutes, which often ends up turning into an hour anyway. And then I have to explain myself and my work to everyone. Especially irritating are the compliance managers, who insist that they don't have to be familiar with our website (on which I work) but then insist that I give them a tour to ensure I'm doing the work. It's maddening.

So, yeah. The turn of the calendar comes and the darker, cooler, wetter days, the busier days, come along with it. I miss living somewhere with a more gradual segue into autumn and winter. But every now and then we get a glimpse of the beauty that autumn can offer and I'm pleased.
scarlettina: (Five)
1) I have not seen a movie in far too long, and I'm not sure why, except to say that I haven't been overwhelmed by the choices that theaters are offering me. I've heard really good things about LOGAN which, somehow, surprises me but has made me curious. What would people recommend I see?

2) It's getting toward annual review time at work. I've gotten stuff done this year, but I kind of feel like I've been a pill, too, mainly because I've been frustrated by my lack of movement and the lack of opportunity for same in the organization. I've been sniffing around for making a move of my own, because I don't like getting up in the morning unhappy about my prospects. I don't expect a major raise this year. I'm kind of expecting to get slapped down. Perhaps if I keep my expectations low, I'll be pleasantly surprised. Only time will tell.

3) More than ten years ago, when I left therapy, I promised myself I'd never do it again because I felt like I'd covered the landscape over and over again. Well, I'm back in, and taking a completely different approach. It's been interesting so far, educational. I like the people I'm working with. It's expensive but I'm worth the investment.

4) Creatively, I'm in this weird landscape where I'm in for small projects, not large ones, and even those, I don't feel invested in. I've never been in a headspace like this before, where creativity feels like an essential part of me but doesn't feel accessible right now. Everything feels tentative and effortful. I'm hoping that maybe I can put together some time to do some creative work this weekend.

5) But on the subject of this weekend, this needs to be tax weekend. I want to get it done, and done earlier--much earlier--than I did it last year. Which means creativity may need to take a back seat. :: sigh ::
scarlettina: (Snowflake 2)
Baby, it's cold outside It's finally feeling like winter. Am I celebrating? No. It's just . . . well, it's December and it's finally cold. Reality is catching up with the conceptual template of our calendar. I may not have enough warm clothes of the proper size to wear this season. I really do need to clean up the bedroom, shop in my closet and see what's what.

Only crazy people travel at Christmas time In a nod to my emotional needs, I've gotten plane tickets to visit the family for Christmas and Chanukah despite my dislike for traveling at this time of year (with all the amateurs) and despite the fact that I shouldn't be spending such money when I'm still paying off August's medical adventure. Given that my brother and sister-in-law have made the typical Long Island marriage (he's Jewish, she's Italian), we'll be celebrating both Chanukah and Christmas, and we'll be doing much of it with her big Italian family. It should be fun, and I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone.

If you don't fit the work, make the work fit you I've started to do informational interviews at the day job to understand what my career movement options are in-house before I start looking elsewhere. It has been suggested that I have the chops for (watch out: technical jargon ahead) product owner, program manager or business analyst. Business analyst is beginning to appeal to the part of me that enjoys taking things apart, understanding them and putting them back together again in more efficient, effective ways (not unlike book editing). More research to do on this front, but it's helping to alleviate the dissatisfaction and frustration I've been feeling at the day job.

Color my world Painting group was last night and I think I may have said everything I wanted to say on the canvas I was working on. I've asked the instructor to get me another canvas to work on. I'm not going to start on the new one until I look at the current work one last time to make sure I'm really done with it. I tried some new materials and techniques last night (working with a high-flow paint that feathers beautifully when squirted with water) and want to see how it all dries and resolves. Things are sparking in my head, and I'm liking the sensation.

Gemstone jam I may or may not have mentioned here that I'm going to be a vendor at the company holiday craft fair. I'm generating jewelry, but it's going more slowly than I need it to, and the fair is barreling down upon me. It has occurred to me that I've spent a lot of time making elaborately pretty things, but I need to make some really simple things that will be less expensive. Tonight I need to put together some simple, easy pendants. But this means going over to Fusion Beads to spend money on chain and cord. :: sigh :: I'll never make back the money I'm spending on this experiment. It's a worthy experiment but it's a costly one.
scarlettina: (All my own stunts)
Back to work
Went back to work yesterday via telecommute. I had three weeks of email to catch up on. It's hard to read three weeks of email and not be able to do anything about what's already happened. I wanted to butt into every thread and yell, "No! That's wrong!" But not having been there, things went on without me as one would expect. I don't have to solve every problem or make everyone do things the way I would. But being a slight control freak, it's hard to sit back and do nothing. And my energy gave out at both 11:30 AM and 4 PM. I know what to expect today.

Back to life
The challenge of having people who aren't me cleaning my house has been that I'm discovering things done differently than I would have done them, things stored where they oughtn't have been stored, things opened and assumptions made that were incorrect, and trying to find ways to remedy those situations. I hugely appreciate all the work done on my behalf while I was ill. It was mitzvah on top of mitzvah. But I am a creature of habits and methods and practices, and when those are disrupted or diverted, I get angsty. So I'm trying to slowly deal with all of that.

Hospital resolutions
Toward the end of my stay in the hospital, I made some resolutions:
1. To get a new mattress and box springs. Life is too short to sleep in a bed you're not 100% comfortable in. My current mattress and box spring are probably about 10 years old, so it's time.
2. To get air purifiers into the house. I need two. Those things are expensive! I bought one this past weekend. I haven't set it up yet, because I need to figure out location and power sources. But it will be done, and it will be helpful.
3. To reorganize my main floor. It needs it. There's a whole corner of the room that doesn't work, and that disfunction has been exacerbated by the challenge of having people who aren't me cleaning and organizing the place. I need boxes and shopping time and time to cull and curate the books and other stuff in that corner.
4. To enjoy my balcony more. I've been doing that, between sitting in the shade on the balcony on hot days, and planting and repotting plants. I'm also enjoying watching my strawberries get red and ripe. I've been keeping an eye out for squirrels and Stellar's jays to make sure I get to the fruit before they do. Living with two little predators who love the balcony certainly helps as well.
5. To get a housekeeper to come in. I have one referral and one avenue I need to explore. Haven't done anything about this yet, but once other things are organized and in place, I will.

My weight
All pretense of trying to deal with my weight has gone out the window. I can't even think about it right now.

My emotional life
Sunday night was hard for reasons I won't get into here. I'm still dealing with the fallout. I'm sad. I'm angry. I'm resentful. I'm frustrated. I'm resigned--because there's nothing I can do about the situation that provoked the incident in question. It just is what it is. But I'm upset with people who felt they should get involved in something that wasn't their business. And in the end I just feel empty. I wanted to be creative last night, but nothing I tried felt like it had a point: beading, drawing, writing. Even coloring felt stupid and pointless. I went to bed and read for a while and then fell asleep. I'm glad I'm going to have company tonight. This bashing around trying to make something out of nothing by myself is destructive.

Mid-April update

Mon, Apr. 18th, 2016 07:26 am
scarlettina: (Just Keep Swimming!)
Time continues to fly. I think it's partly because our perception of time changes as we get older and partly because I've been keeping enormously busy. Yesterday, my body finally said, "Enough!" I spent the morning alternately sleeping and getting little things done (and Skyping with [ profile] skidspoppe). I spent the afternoon being productive. I spent dinner with [ profile] suricattus and later an hour or so Skyping with [ profile] davidlevine--good visits, both.

Things in general can be summed up as follows:

Work: Someone at the office may be keeping tabs on my LJ. Why do I think this? Because within days of my last post, whence I complained about not feeling challenged, I was named product owner for the shopping experience on the website for 2017. (Of course, I mentioned in my annual self review that my biggest challenge at work was that my ambition and skill set outstripped my authority, my influence and my reach. That may have had something to do with it.) It's a big responsibility, and I suspect that it's a test run for work yet to come. I'm excited and scared and hoping that I can rock it like a rocking thing. We'll see.

Travel: My trip to San Francisco looms. I'm looking forward to seeing the family and to seeing local friends. I'm looking forward to sightseeing as well. My brother and sister-in-law travel a little differently than I do, so it will be interesting to see whether or not our styles mesh. But overriding it, I suspect, will just be getting to see them and my niece. Also, EB and I have purchased our tickets to fly to Ireland in July. Very excited about that. I've been reading a history of Ireland; I'm up to the early 1600s. That's a lot of warfare for such a small place! Next on the planning schedule is figuring out where we're going and staying. We've made up a wishlist of things to see and do; more to come when I get back from California.

Bathroom renovation: I've gotten the prep instructions from the contractor. The letter is calling for my clearing 200 square feet of space so they can stage the work. Also, to cover anything near the work area in plastic. I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to do all that, but it seems clear that it will be necessary. I've got a weekend put aside specifically for this work, so I'll get it done, one way or another.

Ecumenism R us: I attended the baptism of MG's son on Saturday. I've never attended the actual service for such a thing before, only the after-party. But MG needed someone to be a photographer and I stepped up. Religious ritual in general interests me, always has, and getting a glimpse into Catholic practice was fascinating. There is some commonality with Jewish practice, but where there are differences, they are dramatic. It was lovely to see MG so happy and excited, and I was happy to be present. At the same time, there was a moment when I was distinctly uncomfortable. The reading from the Gospel was, well, pretty hostile to Jews. I was a guest; I didn't say anything about it. But clearly I was not the audience for this particular thing. And it was not in anyone's interest for me to rain on what was, for MG, clearly a special day. I took about 130 pictures, winnowed them down to the 30-or-so best of the bunch and shared them. The after-party was small but pleasant. And I learned a thing or two about Catholicism that I didn't know before. As long as I'm learning, I'm good.

I go into this week with a pretty clear schedule of Things That Must Be Done: dentist appointment, haircut, Pesach plans, and then a flight to parts south. It's going to be busy, but I'm hoping it's all going to be good. Fingers crossed!
scarlettina: (Angel)
I wonder this every time the months change: How did it get to be February, March, April? Simple answer: one day at a time.

And what have I been doing as the days fly by? Let's see:

Norwescon: I attended Norwescon as a fan this year, a novel experience. I got to attend panels I wasn't on, which almost never happens, and in each case brought its own rewards. I was especially taken with the panel on characters bearing witness to tragedy or bad things in general. Good discussion, invaluable food for thought for character building. I came home with two new pieces of art and a lovely, handthrown pot with Gallifreyan heiroglyphs on it for the renovated bathroom. I also got to do some figure drawing, which I haven't done in years. It felt good. Best treats of the weekend: getting to see [ profile] davidlevine, in costume, rap-filk about his forthcoming novel (by way of a Hamilton filk) (but generally seeing DD is always good for me), seeing BK and meeting his wife KK, having excellent meals with friends. It's all about the people; it always is.

Work: The day job continues alternately interesting and frustrating. It helps that I like my coworkers. They're generally smart, capable people, and they're what make the frustration bearable. I'm trying to find ways to demonstrate the value I add, as well as leadership qualities and a strategic approach in the hopes that someone will figure out that I'm more than just a knowledgable pair of hands for building web pages. I've gotten to do some writing and editing lately, which has helped, and got to do some problem cracking as we deployed some new code earlier this week. There's got to be more, though.

Bathroom renovation: I finally have a start date for the bathroom renovation. It's not until next month, but it's finally scheduled. I can't wait.

State of me: Weirdly, I seem to be becoming an introvert, spending a lot of time by myself and missing all of my friends. I don't like it, not a bit. I have spoken to my doctor about adjusting my depression medication, because I find myself watching TV more and creating less (no writing, little jewelry making, little photography--it's bad). I can't even find it in me to make plans for movies or theater or anything. We've made a change but it has yet to kick in. We'll see. I'm trying to be more mindful about food and hydration, and trying to walk a bit more. I turn on my happy light when I remember to. The sun's slow return is definitely helping.

Midnight Special: I did manage to make one plan this week, which was to see this film at The Egyptian last night with [ profile] oldmangrumpus. It's a quiet, understated, well-made movie about an extraordinary child and the efforts of his parents to get him back to where he belongs. The script is minimal, allowing actors to do what they do best, and they all bring it. Recommended.
scarlettina: (Five)
1) Just finished reading our own [ profile] jimhines's (Jim C. Hines) Unbound and enjoyed it quite a bit.* I really like his Magic Ex Libris series, with its book magic and its librarian hero, Isaac (who looks incredibly hot on this volume's cover--guy's been doing upper body work at the gym, I see). They're fun, fast reads, peppered with history and humor. They're thoughtful and clever. I like all of the protagonists, and I also like the matter-of-fact portrayal of a working polyamorous relationship. Looking forward to the fourth and final volume in the series, Revisionary, which was just published in hardcover. And now, I'm on to Stephen King's 11/22/63. I'm late, I know, but I figure better now than after the TV series premieres.

2) I want, very much, to love my day job and I just don't. Doesn't help that it's the slow time of the year and there's just not much for me to do. I will occasionally propose a project and be told that there's no budget or that it's not the direction we're going in, or that it needs to wait until another group's plans are solidified. There's no question that it's a way to pay for my roof and cat kibble and all that. But every day I find myself less motivated and less interested in going to the office. Even working with people I genuinely like, I just . . . my heart's just not in it much anymore. And I don't know what other direction to turn in to change things up.

3) Plans for travel continue apace. It's going to be a busy year. Next week I'm off to the rainforest for Patrick Swenson's Rainforest Writers Village retreat. Next month I'll be at Norwescon (first time in years I haven't been on programming and I find myself remarkably OK with that). In April, I'm off to San Francisco for a trip with family. And it looks like, in July, EB and I are off to Ireland. I'm reading and learning and trying to prep. I'm hoping plans will pick up after EB and I are both back from the retreat.

4) Lately, I just want to hibernate, hibernate, hibernate. It could have to do with my weight gain. It could have to do with my depression. Even medicated, I struggle sometimes. I need to find that therapist I've been trying to find for three months. After two false starts, I'm weary and wary, I admit.

5) My one solace right now is the crafting. I've been working on a modified version of a woven beaded necklace that I've made a number of times before. It's painstaking, meticulous work, and I exhausted myself the other night figuring out how to create the effect I wanted, but in a really good way. Had Sophie not insisted on cuddle time, I would have continued last night. So there's that.

* Every now and then, I'll refer to an author as "our own." This generally means they're part of the LiveJournal community. But it also means that I'm pleased and proud to be associated with them in this, the most tenuous of connections, even if I've never met them in person. In these latter days, with so few of us still here, we are--in my mind, anyway--a special group. We get to know each other in ways we never would on something like Facebook. It's awesome.
scarlettina: (Five)
1) Weather: It's been insanely dark the last few days. Cliff Mass, Seattle's weather guru, says that Monday, December 7th, was the darkest day in Seattle in 9 years. If this morning is any indication we may break that record again. I've got my happy light on as I type. It's helped me before. Looks like I'll really need it today.

2) Self care: I started on antidepressants about two months ago. Yesterday, I forgot to take my medication and only realized it when I was already on the bus on the way to work. I took a dip last night that was murderous and had a really tough evening. Self care has always been a challenge for me--but I can't let that happen again.

3) Photography: I've been (finally) creating photojournals of the Europe trip I took in 2012, including pictures and my LiveJournal entries from the trip. I've completed and received the Paris book. (I use Blurb, which offers a lot of flexibility in design that other applications don't. It's more expensive but it's worth it for me.) Now I'm working on the one for Lithuania and Amsterdam. I'm enjoying looking back at all these pictures and journal entries. The weather was beautiful in Paris; it was dark, rainy and overcast almost the whole time I was in Lithuania and Amsterdam. I'm using PhotoShop and iPhoto to try to lighten up some of the photographs; it's an interesting exercise.

4) Work: Everyone I work with these days either telecommutes or lives and works in Portland. I'm the only one on our team that works from the office anymore. It's very lonely. There are other folks at the office, of course, in other groups. I'm trying to make connections. But it's really challenging: I go to the office and there's no one there. I come home, and it's just me and the cats. I need to make more plans and see more people. It's not healthy for me to be so alone so much.

5) Books: I'm reading very slowly these days. I started Silver on the Road by our own [ profile] suricattus recently and am enjoying it hugely. It's very good indeed, with rich and layered character building, and an atmosphere of delicious mystery in her version of the Weird West. I'm taking my time with it and I recommend it.
scarlettina: (Daffy frustration)
So, it was quite the storm today: major winds and rain, just as predicted. Many folks I know lost power and still haven't gotten it back yet. My power flickered a couple of times but it remained on. Glad I didn't have to deal with an outage.

So here's a thing going on that I haven't mentioned: I'm interviewing with Facebook tomorrow. It's a second interview--a first with the hiring manager. The position is based on Menlo Park and if I took the job, I'd have to move. Here's the thing: I had a first interview with the recruiter and told her, point blank, that though working for FB would be exciting, the role we're discussing would be a lateral move for me and I'm really interested in something that would be a promotion. She insisted that I talk with the hiring manager, that though it might be a lateral move, Facebook is so big that it was likely I could move in the organization within a year or a little more.

In email, I received links from someone else on the recruitment team that they suggested I review before the meeting. I'm looking at them now, knowing what my role would be, and I find I'm just bored. I've done this all before. I agreed to talk to the hiring manager, but I can't imagine much that would motivate me to take the job, sell my home (or rent it from a distance--bleh), and move my entire life to northern California unless promotion would be guaranteed and the money would be spectacular. But no one can guarantee promotion and money can only make up for so much.

What all this boils down to is that I find myself wondering if I'm done with working on the web. Or, at least, working in content. I've been so dissatisfied with my day job lately that I find it hard to focus and not to snap at coworkers. I just get impatient with people (especially the woman who recruited me for the job I have now; she doesn't realize exactly how condescending she comes across and it's infuriating). But I don't know what I'd do next. There's a piece of me that would like to toss this 40-hours-a-week thing, but I have a mortgage and other bills to pay and, at my age, I admit that I've become accustomed to living in a certain way. I've been building security for retirement and I don't want to stop that. Also, I don't do well with financial uncertainty.

So there we are. I know I need to do some evaluation. I'm not even sure how to start. But I do know one thing: I can't go on being frustrated and unhappy at work. Something's got to give.

Storm's a-comin'

Tue, Nov. 17th, 2015 08:10 am
scarlettina: (Portlandia)
The weather people are saying that the Seattle area's going to be hit with a major storm today: rain-rain-rain, winds of a major proportion, snow in the mountains, all manner of weather that is generally uncomfortable for human beings and other living creatures. In the wake of my two sick days last week and my day off yesterday, working from home seems like an excellent idea, so that's what I'm going to do today--and probably tomorrow and Thursday.

What about Friday? Friday, I fly to parts south to visit my cousin P and his wife S. Thanksgiving week will be another short work week for me, and then things will return to normal again--at least until Christmas week.

I'm so not ready for the holidays. The days go quicker and quicker. I'm told this comes with age. Considering the alternative, I'll take it but I don't have to enjoy it.

Had a good weekend--a roadtrip to Portland to stay with [ profile] davidlevine and [ profile] kateyule. It was lovely and stress-free, which I really needed. We cooked a lot, talked, and . . . oh yeah, I got a new computer and printer. My old MacBook Pro was ten years old; it was time. The machine sort of pushed me into it, refusing to boot completely and all. Thankfully, everything was backed up. Looking forward to getting the new machine set up and rolling. I have writing and genealogy and photography to do.

Also got to enjoy a delicious dim sum lunch with [ profile] calendula_witch and [ profile] mark_j_ferrari. I don't see them nearly enough. Mark had never had dim sum before so it was delightful to watch him discover the joys of shu mai, dumplings, three varieties of bao, sesame balls and egg custard tartlets, among others. He displayed the appropriate dismay at the chicken feet. I think we have a convert.

Also, I made a new necklace for the first time in quite a while, a beautiful thing in shades of smoky blue and copper with fresh water pearls. I spent more on it than I should have, but it's one of the prettiest things I think I've ever made. Mark declared it gallery-worthy. I preened a little at that.

So, now I go off to work after five days of not doing so. I anticipate an overwhelming amount of email and tasks needing to be completed. I want to like my job more than I do, but at this point I'm extremely frustrated with the stagnation and the lack of promotion or movement options. I'm looking at my options and considering a change. We shall see.
scarlettina: (Autumn)
Water's in the kettle for tea, cats have been fed and watered (though if you asked them, not nearly enough), and I'm dressed. Thus starteth the day. While I did my morning blog roll, I turned on the happy light to help get me started. I can already feel it working. It's so bizarre how something as simple as light can make such an enormous difference. And yet, I can feel bits of me perking up, waking up, getting antsy to be active. Meanwhile, it's 7:30 and it's still dark outside. On November 1, we fall back--another hour of darkness in the morning. Way up here in the north, the benefits of daylight savings are few.

Work continues stressful. I've been working at home the last few business days and will do so today as well. It's not my usual mode and I don't plan to make a habit of it, but right now, it's easier for me to work at home and get started earlier in the day. After my business trip this week, I'll be back in the office more regularly. At least, that's what I've promised myself. I want to like my day job more than I do right now. Maybe I will after all the open enrollment work is done. We'll see.

I've been spending too much money lately. Bought a dress for the business trip (red, long sleeves, cowl neck, with a nice, if strange, hemline that actually drapes very well), tights, and a new winter coat, mainly because my lovely red coat is now too small and my old winter pea coat is too big. The sleeves on the new coat are being shortened and it should be ready this coming weekend--not a moment too soon. Possibly not quite soon enough. It's been getting colder. (Well, not so very cold--58-62 degrees, but cold enough that the heat in the house is coming on without my touching the thermostat.) But the new coat is sharp and stylish, not to mention necessarily warm. And I still have my Eddie Baur rain anorak, though it's so old at this point that I notice it's absorbing as much rain as it's deflecting.

My living room floor is littered with cat toys. (Well, OK, not littered precisely, but there are toys here and there.) So what is Ezekiel playing with this morning? The remains of the mouse-snake bestowed upon him by an ex-boyfriend as much as five years ago. It's nothing more than a scrap of fake fur at this point, but apparently it's far more interesting than the more-recently-acquired intact catnip toys just a foot or so away. Cats. :: sigh ::

ETA: Sometimes I want to save corworkers face. Sometimes I want to smack them in the face. Sometimes, the distance between the two desires is not so very far at all and can turn on a dime.

* "Random thoughts before the tea kicks in," with a hat tip to [ profile] puppetmaker40 for the acroynm

Foggy Friday

Fri, Oct. 23rd, 2015 08:14 am
scarlettina: (All my own stunts)
Bless me, LJ, for I have sinned--it's been 14 days since my last post, two weeks. How the heck did that happen?

Well, I'll tell you.

October has been the busiest, most stressful month of my work year. At work, a bunch of federal regulations came down that we were unprepared for, so I'm spending a lot of time updating the company website to be sure we're in compliance. And every day I get asked, over and over again, will we be ready? Will you be done? And every time someone asks me, it adds stress that is not helpful. So I go to work, deal with the massive stress, come home and, basically, shut down. I binge-watch TV or I make some jewelry or play with the cats. Writing has been really challenging. I've been saying that I can't wait for November 1, which is the deadline I'm working toward, but it's become clear that the work is going to continue in this high-pressure fashion for a while yet.

My computer
My laptop, a Mac Book Pro, is at capacity. It's so full that I can't even open the finder without getting a message to shut down some applications because there's so little room for application operation that it freaks out at even the most basic functions. What am I writing on now? Sshhhh--my work computer. I need a new machine. This costs money. But here's the thing...

I am anticipatorially house poor. What that means is that I've got a bathroom renovation looming on the horizon that I have to pay for, and I hadn't planned on an extra 2.5K in computer costs. Plus there's some lingering overflow from my burn earlier this year. (Don't get me started. Trust me. I don't want to talk about it.) I have a bunch of travel I want to do next year and things are just getting very tight. So I'm trying to watch my pennies but, you know, life. So that's stress there.

Besides the work stress, there's been some personal stress. And there's been depression, honest, real, clinical depression that's been going on longer than I care to admit, for which I am getting help. And it's made a difference. But it's a slow crawl back to functionality, much less cheerful, healthy, ambitious functionality. One step at a time. That's my mantra these days.

I've had one story--my Mary-Lincoln-and-the-automaton story--out on submission. Four rejections now, but mostly encouraging rejections. I may go back and do some revision before I send it out again. We'll see. I love that story, and I don't want to kill it with revision as I have other pieces I've loved. And I'm doing some exploratory writing on a thing about a cat herder and a dragon hunter. No idea where that's going, if it's going anywhere at all.

So that's the brief rundown. I still want to write about the maybe-crime to which I was a witness and my reactions to it. But I've got to get through this work time, and I've got to get through the needless business trip next week. And I've got to give myself enough breathing room to enjoy tonight's outing, which does promise to be fun.

So that's where I'm at right now. Not a great place but not a bad place. "One day at a time" is my motto these days. One day at a time.

PS--Also? I need new slippers. I had wonderful shearling slippers that kept my feet toasty warm and I wore them until they fell apart. I need to go get another pair. It's getting cooler here--so cool that the heat has come on without my turning up the thermostat--so it's time.

State of me

Thu, Jul. 2nd, 2015 07:37 am
scarlettina: (Creating yourself)
First of all, it's hot. I know, I know, it's summer, it's supposed to be hot. But in Seattle, summers are typically warm and mild. The last week or so, the weather has been scorching: sunny, uncharacteristically without rain and, yesterday, humid--at least by Seattle standards. The level of the strangeness of this weather cannot be overestimated. Let's put it this way: when I want it to get overcast and rainy? You know something is wrong.

The day job
Work has been strange and stressful. Our team was reorganized a couple of months back--or perhaps it's more correct to say that our team was nuked from orbit, because it was the only way to be sure that the new chief marketing officer had the team she wanted, and refocused the company on sales. The result of this reorg is that a team that worked like a well-oiled machine, a team that everyone was pleased with, has been split into four, maybe five other groups. There is no more web team. We're all pieces of other groups now. No one communicates with anyone the way they used to, mandates and goals for the website aren't being shared effectively and many of us are feeling like we've been set adrift, occasionally pushed in what may be the right direction, but no one knows for sure. Either the workload has increased, or we're feeling the loss of protection as a group that we had while our old director was still with the company. (She was laid off as a result of the reorg. She was a friend and mentor to me and I miss her keenly.) It has been stressful and has resulted in all of us feeling like we're casting about in the darkness for the right handhold so that we don't fall down an unseen hole.

I threw a fit earlier this week because, as the result of one (smart but poorly considered and incompletely conceived) mandate, our design team forgot a key piece of the design for a new feature on the website. I talked to every manager who would listen to me. As the message was communicated up the chain, the reaction was, "What? Wait. We missed . . . what? That's important? Well, crap. OK, you're right. Let's fix that . . . when we have time." It was a slow realization, like management was waking up from a drugged stupor, and I'm still not convinced that it's going to be properly addressed. Why did I make a fuss? Because I was asked to write copy for this incomplete design and couldn't finish my work because the workflow obviously had holes in it. I actually lost sleep over it. I had trouble speaking about it because I was so upset about it. This is so not me, and it's a result of the new environment at work. It's like people just aren't paying attention to anything except what management turns its fickle, ADD-addled eye upon next rather than focusing on steady progress to key goals. There are squirrels in the process everywhere.* It's making work a less-than-pleasant place to be.

Writing and editing
Well, the Kobold Guide to Combat wasn't nominated for an ENnie Award. I'm disappointed but not surprised. I know that an award nomination is not an indication that a project has been a failure. It's a good book; it's just not at the very top of its category--in a year that was very strong indeed. It was an ambitious project and, of all the books in the series, it was the hardest to pull together. Some writers whom I thought could deliver just didn't. Others didn't deliver what was asked of them. From this I learn that I need to better scope out the writers I choose for projects. I learn that some writers are great storytellers but not non-fiction writers. And I learn that when I make an assignment, I have to be crystal clear about the requirements and the goals of the essay and the project. In some cases, I probably wasn't.

I also learned that I need to make better choices about how and when I take on a project. This was the right project at, I suspect, the wrong time. It's why I'm taking a hiatus from the Kobold series. I love working with the Kobold team and [ profile] the_monkey_king. I loved those projects. But they meant that I wasn't writing. And the time of the year that the work came meant that I spent a beautiful summer indoors editing, which made me restless and dissatisfied.

On the writing front, I've been working on my Mary Todd Lincoln story all spring in fits and starts due to time constraints and it's making me unhappy. I should be done with the story by now. I want it out in the world. But it's not finished and, as a result, I'm falling a little out of love with it. I've never been a fast writer. I'm hoping that this torturous process won't kill this story for me the way it has others that I've adored. ::sigh::

Other stuff
There's other stuff I want to write about--my weight, the challenging emotional environment I'm dealing with right now, my utter inability to declutter the house, my lack of travel and the empty prospect for same--but it all seems kind of overwhelming. I think what it all boils down to is that I may need to do what I promised myself I'd never do again: get back into therapy. The level of "I don't want to" is pretty high in that direction, and yet a lot of what I've been thinking and feeling has suggested that I really need to do it soon. It doesn't anger or frustrate me. It just makes me sad.

The holiday weekend is upon us, and I'm looking forward to some dedicated Me Time--which I haven't had in weeks. I may be inviting some people into this time, but I'm going to be careful about who. I need to foster the relationships that nourish me and, for once, listen to my inner self about not letting those that don't drain my energy completely. I need it for me.

* In case anyone, years from now, reads this journal entry and doesn't understand the squirrel reference: SQUIRREL!
scarlettina: (Five)
1) Warm weather: It was warm and sunny this weekend, so I did the things one does when the sun comes out. I went to the West Seattle Garage Sale Day with a friend and picked through other people's cast offs looking for treasure. (Found some!) And I transplanted the coleus into outdoor pots. I have three pretty varieties out there now. I hope the warmth lasts and nurtures them into bushiness. I will be doing my best to help along this process. I loves me my coleus. I also topdressed the strawberries and am hoping for a better crop this year. (I've already got one little berry, electric green and growing, on the vine.)

2) Reading: Just finished reading Marie Brennan's Tropic of Serpents and while I enjoyed it, I found myself feeling as though some of the things she set up paid off rather weaker than I think she intended them to. The end felt a little rushed to me. The book felt somewhat uneven. Isabella is still a fun and interesting character and I am likely to read the next volume, but my hopes will be more reasonable.

3) SIFF is coming: With the inevitability of winter in a George R.R. Martin novel, SIFF approacheth and I'm still picking my movies. I promised myself I would have my schedule mapped out by tonight so I could go get my tickets this evening on the way home from work, but I have failed. Maybe I'll use my lunch break today to review things one more time. We'll see. I'll post my schedule once I have it nailed down.

4) Mother's Day: Though the day itself was quite fine, the cultural overlay of the day--the "holiday"--was a mixed bag of emotions, as Mother's Day always is for me. Glad it's over. Moving on.

5) Day job: There's been a lot of change at work, a reorganization that has moved me into a different department, upending a lot of plans I had and a lot of social infrastructure I was building. I'm considering my options now, considering the lay of the land and trying to figure out what I want now and what I want next. It's stressful; my stomach hasn't settled in nearly a week.
scarlettina: (Angel)
1) I've recently seen ads for concerts by Yes and by Alan Parsons Project and I couldn't get excited about the prospect of attending either. This is A Change; I adored these bands for years. I saw Parsons once: they stood, they played, they left. Awesome music, exactly zero stage presence. I can listen to my discs and MP3s if I want a stay-at-home experience. I've seen Yes at least four times, maybe five. The last time, Anderson used a teleprompter and still forgot words, and Squire somehow lost the rhythm in one song and took a verse to find it again. At the prices this band commands, I think I've seen my last Yes show, much as I'd like to go. I'm not spending much money on concerts these days--hardly any at all. It has to be something special--and, frankly, something reasonably priced--for me to attend a show anymore. The confluence of the two is so rare that I suspect my concert days are dwindling to nothingness.

2) Proposition 1, a special ballot connected to transit in King County where I live, has failed. That means, most significantly, major cuts to bus service and other transit-related things. How shortsighted are we as a city that we'll undermine a service that's being used more than ever? Pretty damn shortsighted. Friends of Transit is pulling together a proposed measure to save those bus lines. I guess we'll see what happens. [ profile] mcjulie has some things to say on the subject that are worth reading. Mainly, she's interpreting the results, and I don't think she's wrong.

3) Things at work are very, very busy. I'm on two teams, both of which are hitting crunch time, and I'm getting squeezed all around. I don't respond well to the kind of pressure I'm getting: Are you done yet? How much longer? Is your reporting up to date? Please update your reporting. What's taking you so long? Why are you working on that project for the other team? Are you done yet? ::sigh:: I promised myself I'd go to the office early today to try to get a leg up. I don't actually see that happening.

4) I harvested the first salad from this year's balcony garden and had said salad for lunch yesterday. It was gratifying and delicious.

5) I have a Thing happening with my left eye. I think it may be work-stress related. It feels like there's something in my eye--the left corner of my left eye specifically--but when I examine it in a mirror, I can't see anything wrong there except a little bit of blood in the corner there. I need to make an appointment with my eye doctor. I don't like this. I don't like this at all. I don't know when I can go, though. See number 3 above. I'm . . . irritated.
scarlettina: (Writing)
I'm working with a co-worker to revise copy targeted toward lay people to help them understand something both technically and legally difficult. What I'm finding fascinating is the speed of interaction. It highlights different work styles, different emphases, and different information-processing capabilities. I'm turning things around fairly quickly; she's slower and more deliberate. I'm also seeing where the lines are drawn between communication specialists and subject matter experts or SMEs. The SME goes looking for accuracy and often ends up tangled in the language, providing passive sentence structure, more complicated vocabulary and so on. I read what she's sent, redraft it for the lay person in a more effective and economical way and send it back pretty quickly, 9 times out of 10 getting it right the first time. It's been an interesting process. And heartening to my sense of confidence and accomplishment as well.
scarlettina: (Autumn)
Last Wednesday, I hopped in my car and rendezvoused with three coworkers for a roadtrip to McMenamin's Edgefield Resort in Troutdale, Oregon. I had never heard of this place until the retreat was announced at work, and then [ profile] jaylake mentioned going to see it with [ profile] radiantlisa a month or more ago. After seeing their pictures, I was intrigued.

Cut for length, but includes pictures! )Overall it was a good, productive trip. It was odd to be in Portland and not see my usual cadre. But it kept me focused on my purpose for the visit, and allowed me to bond a bit with coworkers. It was time well-spent.
scarlettina: (TV Watcher)
1) Tomorrow I depart for a company retreat at the McMenamin's Edgefield Resort outside of Portland. It's an overnight trip, and the resort looks cool and interesting, with art all over the place. [ profile] jaylake was there recently with [ profile] radiantlisa and their pictures of the place make it look just lovely. I'll be carpooling down and back with three other coworkers whom I quite like and I expect it will be fun. It'll be work, but it'll be work in good company.

2) Last night's episode of Castle was kind of a nergasm. In a nod to Terminator 2, we've got a double-murder, a suspect who claims to be a time traveler from the future (Joshua Gomez of "Chuck"), a physicist targeted as the Cause of It All (Tim Russ of "Star Trek" in a lovely copycat role of Joe Morton's engineer Miles Dyson from T2), a big, stoic, Germanic type hunting the innocents. And a nice, Twilight Zone-type twist at the end. If you get a chance, catch it online. The ep is called "Time Will Tell."

3) This weekend, in preparation for the coming Thor movie, I rented and watched "Captain America" and "Thor" to fill the holes in my Avengers education. Neither of these movies had any right to be as good or as much fun as they were, but I enjoyed the hell out of them both! I find myself thinking more about Thor than Cap, I think, because of how it ended--with a sort of romantic moment that wasn't at all saccharine. But also because the film made the patently absurd remarkably believable. I suspended my disbelief and didn't second-guess it for a moment. I had a moment or two of hesitation with Captain America, but only a moment or two. Lots of fun. And last night I watched "The Avengers"--my third time seeing it. I was impressed once again with how the director treats Steve Rogers, shooting him and lighting him like he's still a 1940s-era hero, always in sepia browns with brilliant yellow lighting (see especially the boxing scene)--except when he's in uniform. I remain convinced that both the actors and the script have created a canon for Stark/Banner. They're adorable together. It's rare you see two men so blatantly flirt with each other the way they do--you can see their brains sparking off each other--and I love it that the Hulk roars Stark back to consciousness (like waking him with a kiss) and that they drive off together. I loves me my dark-haired, dark-eyed geniuses (even one with breathtaking anger management issues and even if the other is kind of an asshole). ::grin:: Prime, tasty work by RDJ and Mark Ruffalo.

4) Last night I talked with BB, a friend I've known since childhood. I continue to be struck by how different our lives are. I'm not surprised--we were never on the same path by any means. The things we have in common are elemental--where we grew up and the culture there--but other than that, we couldn't be more different. She is a sweet, good-hearted woman and just having a really rough time this year, with family illness all around. I've tendered yet another in a long list of invitations for her to take a break and come visit me, even if it's just for a weekend. As usual, she said it sounded wonderful but will probably never accept, which I regret.

5) My thoughts around the above-noted invitation got me to thinking about getting out of one's comfort zone. It's a challenge for me to do that, but I push myself to do so because I think it's important for me to stretch myself--and it's resulted in amazing travel and wonderful personal experiments. Comfort zones are by definition comfortable, though, and some people--many people--just don't see the need to break out of them. I hope that I never stop pushing myself, even if it's just in tiny increments. When we stop learning, we die.

Bonus! 6) I'm thinking about 2014 and the possibility of international travel again. Certainly there's the WorldCon in London as one option, and [ profile] fjm has already planted a seed about it that I continue to consider. On the other hand I've been to London twice and there are other places in the world that I want to see (though I surely haven't seen nearly enough of London--can one ever?): Morocco, for one. That idea is really taking root. But I also find myself thinking about Tanzania and the Great Migration (though safari trips are insanely expensive). It's funny. There are all these places in Europe I want to see, and yet when my mind turns to travel for real, I always find myself thinking farther afield. Apparently there's something about Africa generally that I find compelling. Still haven't figured this out yet, though. More thought to come.

Editor's note: When I post a Five Things list, often each entry in the list includes a bolded phrase. Usually, this bolded phrase is kind of the subject of the bullet point. I figure it makes it easier to parse the post and see what might be interesting to read about. I don't know if this is true. But what I do know is that people seem more inclined to respond to my Five Things posts when subjects are bolded than not, which I find a fascinating phenomenon from a usability standpoint.
scarlettina: (Autumn)
1) I've been watching Sleepy Hollow, and it occurred to me to post about it mainly because [ profile] terri_osborne has been squeeing about it. I think I'm digging the concept of the show more than I am the show itself. I'll be sticking with the show for now, but I really hope they find a way to add a little more substance somewhere because there's something that's still not quite working for me. Maybe I don't buy Katrina. Maybe I don't buy Ichabod's wearing the same damn clothes for weeks on end. (What happens to his colonial authenticity when he finally buys himself a pair of jeans and a leather duster and gets out of the 200-year-old clothes in which he rose from the grave cave?) I'm buying Abby; I'm just not buying Ichabod the way I want to. I want him to be more of a fish out of water. I want him to react more to the things that are unfamiliar, to be uncomfortable with things that would have been unheard of in his time or that look like magic to him. I'm having trouble suspending my disbelief because the script and the performances don't give me hooks upon which to hang it.

2) Work seems to be an endless cycle of being told I should prioritize my own projects but being derailed again and again by little fires that must be put out right now. It's getting a little frustrating.

3) Everything connected to weight and food is challenging right now. I don't know if it the encroaching darkness of autumn or what, but eating well and getting exercise both seem to require a massive effort right now and it's making me a little crazy. I need to find my determination to be consciously healthy again and kick this business in the ass.

4) Tonight I'm attending SIFF's 40th anniversary member event. They're doing their annual member pre-sale for discounted festival ticket packages and passes, and showing Judi Dench's new movie Philomena, which Rotten Tomatoes shows a rating of 97%--a pretty remarkable score. I didn't know a thing about it until I started reading the summary over there, and then decided I didn't want spoilers--but it's looking like it will be an enjoyable evening, especially in the company of [ profile] ironymaiden and [ profile] varina8.

5) Why is it harder for me to get out the door in the morning when I face a bus commute than it was when I faced a car commute? Is it the darkness? Is it the prospect of dealing with other humans so early in the morning? I wonder.
scarlettina: (Sleepy)
Last night, I went to bed determined to have better dreams than I've had the last few nights. Instead, I had car dreams that are pretty clearly connected to work and my upcoming vacation.

First, I dreamed that my car was stolen. I was at an event of some kind and, when it was over, I went out to the parking lot and couldn't find my car. It wasn't where I left it. I saw Charles de Lint in a car pulling out and begged him for a lift. He looked at me like I was crazy.

Next thing I know, I'm in an underground garage. In the dream, this is the garage of the apartment building in which I live, an upscale place in some undetermined city. My car, in this dream, was something like a pick-up truck—bigger than anything I've ever owned. But I couldn't get it out because the entrance and the exit to the floor upon which it was parked were jammed with people's extra furniture. And even as I roamed around, frustrated about not being able to get out, more and more people brought in furniture that blocked the ramps, until the place looked like an antiques shop. I was alternately angry about not being able to get out, and intrigued by the stuff people were shoving into place.

Basically, this is all about how the more I try to finish up stuff at the office before I take my vacation, the more people push stuff onto my plate to take care of. It's an interesting and not inappropriate metaphor. But these dreams are not what I was hoping for last night, and Zeke woke me twice during the night for cuddles, which means I'm not well-rested today. ::sigh:: Back to the salt mines....


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