So, Yeah…

Boy, have things been… well, I would say interesting around here, but they haven’t been really. At least not externally.

As I have been whined ad nauseam, my current job rotation is killing me. I spend a lot of time taking anti-anxiety medications, deep breathing, and/or crying anyway. The powers that be have no interest in alleviating the agony, so I am hanging on by my fingernails. I will retire in 15 years, 7 months, and 27 days, and God willing and the creek don’t rise, I will be rotated out of member services long before that. I’ve been there nine months and I may be looking at eighteen more.

This coming week is slated so suck so badly they won’t need to vacuum the floors at night. So I figured it was as good a time as any to go on about why I never write.

My doctor has added two additional medications to help me deal, and actually referred me to a therapist, which is unusual for Kaiser (generally they like to throw you into their classes after work; where, tired and hungry, you can listen to other people’s problems and be forced to share your own with strangers). The therapist actually thinks I should apply for ADA accommodation, but I am still leery, because of the danger of not being accommodated and losing my job. And I liked my job before this rotation! Also, mortgage and future retirement and all that.

Basically, here’s the current rundown. If anyone has any advice (other than “suck it up,” since we know that isn’t going to work), I’m all ears.

  • Having to deal with strangers all day every day and enduring endless panic attacks because of that.
  • My private time at least partially ruined by dread.
  • Feeling overwhelmed by things I need/want to do to the house, and the fact that I don’t have anyone to help (not financially; just BE there and help me schlep things or do things that taller folks can do or even just keep me company) makes it worse.
  • Wanting to cook big meals for people but not having anyone to cook for. Occasionally I might have one person over but as a single person, coupled people seem reluctant to socialize with me. That is, I may be friends with one member of the couple, but the couple together does not invite or include me in anything. So I’d feel weird inviting the couples I know over.
  • Middle age catching up with large body and making heretofore simple movements not so simple anymore.
  • Being gone 12 hours a day, so any kind of exercise is limited. Water exercise would be best, but there is no 8 PM water aerobics class around here that I can find.
  • Being a bit overwhelmed by things like wanting to eat whole, unprocessed foods but being so exhausted by work that I don’t want to drive all over the Bay Area to find the best organic stuff and then actually cook it. (See item #3 above.)
  • Being lonely and yet set in my living-alone ways.
  • The probably universal terror/despair of being in my late 40s with pretty much no dream of mine realized.

Total FWP. I have a job and a home and I travel. My health is relatively good despite clinical depression, anxiety, and arthritis. I do have family and a few friends. I am not starving; I don’t live in a shantytown; I am unlikely to contract Ebola or anything else devastating like that; I didn’t even feel today’s earthquake.

But when I think about writing, my fingers and my heart feel like lead, and so I haven’t been. Maybe rambling about this will help clear out some of that.




Giving Up, Parts One and Two

Part One

When I was around eight, I kept bugging my mother to take me to church. Something was driving me. I wanted to go so badly. My mother was a (lapsed) (Northern) Baptist and my father was a (lapsed) Catholic. Since I was closer to my mother, and she was less lapsed than my dad, eventually I started going to the Baptist church.

My Baptist upbringing was not at all like what most people describe as a Baptist upbringing. Although our church didn’t allow alcohol on the premises, my mother and many of her church friends drank elsewhere. Our pastor once described being served sherry at a little old lady’s home and rather than offend her, he drank it, even though he himself was a teetotaler. Dancing was fine. No hellfire-and-brimstone sermons were ever preached in our church.

As a kid, I took for granted that God existed and, like many other things from childhood, things seemed simple on that front. On the other hand, for various reasons I kept becoming convinced I was bound for hell. So that was fun…sort of.

My mother had gone to the same church as a teenager and a lot of the adults were her friends from that era; a lot of the kids went to school with me. It’s one of the few places in life I’ve actually felt comfortable and part of a group, for the most part. I sang in the adult choir even though I was still a kid, because I was advanced for my age and a good solid second soprano. For several years, the pastor’s daughter was my best friend — until she became pretty and popular and I, not so much. Then her father left the ministry and so that edgy dynamic disappeared.

Throughout my childhood, though, I was wistful that it hadn’t been my dad taking me to church. I was absolutely fascinated by the world of my Catholic friends — rosary beads, nuns, statues, missals, crucifixes, Fathers.  I appropriated a 1960s St. Josephs Missal that my dad had, which had belonged to one his aunts. (I still have it. Such illustrations!) I read and re-read The Song of Bernadette when I was around nine, amazed that there were actual photographs of saints — and I did consider all the saints to be saints, somehow, even if I was totally unclear on the concept of what “praying to the saints” meant. I had the usual Protestant misconception about that. I always knew I didn’t want to get married in our blond-wood sanctuary with grey vinyl padded pews, frosted glass windows, and one lone, unadorned cross over the baptismal font in the back of what we called an altar, although there was no actual altar there. I figured I probably would, though, if I ever did get married.

And then I went to college. A Catholic college, actually. For the first time I was taught by nuns — though none of them wore habits — and it was there that I totally lost my faith. I had never considered all the obvious questions about creation, other faiths, contradictions…things that cause some people to lose their faith and things that people who keep it need to grapple with. I also discovered politics, and in the volatile mid-to-late 80s that was often about the right to choose and feminism in general.

That left me in an emotional whirlpool. If there was no God, then there was nothing after death, and my lifelong terror of death was justified, because it meant I would cease to exist, and that also rendered life meaningless to me, since no matter what I or anyone did, we would just be extinguished when we died. On the other hand, those conservative Christians were absolutely wacko  … so … (My apologies to any conservative Christians who may read this, although I doubt any conservative Christians will.)

I made one last-ditch effort to save my belief by taking to the chaplain and deciding to become Catholic. When he told me how you had to go through RCIA and then be presented to the bishop — a process totally foreign to non-liturgical-Protestant me — I fled from that. And into total unbelief, and anger at the people who believed and were using that belief to keep the United States back, even as I mourned not having faith in an afterlife.

And I stayed in this conflict whirlpool until I was around 28.

I was on a plane to Alaska reading about the Romanovs. There was quite a lot about the Russian Orthodox Church, and I knew Alaska was a bastion of Russian Orthodoxy, but while visiting my then-boyfriend there wasn’t really a chance to find one, especially as he lived in a semi-rural community and this was just before the Internet was a part of everyone’s phone.

I came home, did some research to assuage my curiosity, and found that, yes indeed, they mean it when they say Orthodox. What was a pro-choice feminist thinking? (Oh, but the Liturgy!)

During my research, I felt myself drawn to the Episcopal Church. Anglican! Liturgical! Not (for the most part) right-wing! I wondered why I was so interested in religion all of a sudden — to soothe my fear of death? Give life meaning? Give me back the ritual I hadn’t had since I aged out of Rainbow? Or was it actually the promptings of spirit?

From 1996 until 2012, and then with one more last hurrah in 2013, I tried like anything to believe. I joined the Episcopal Church in 1996 and was married in a Very Very High Church wedding in a beautiful Episcopal church in Berkeley in 1997. (We had a female priest, but we had incense and stupendous music and the Eucharist.)  In 2002, as that marriage was exploding all around my head, I joined the Catholic Church — RCIA and all. (In a not-beautiful parish that wouldn’t know High Churchery if it hit it in the head, but it was dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes and the people were lovely.)

I eventually ended up in a very conservative parish where I wore a mantilla and where they didn’t sing any of the really ridiculous Oregon Catholic Press/David Haas music; offered confession in actual kneeling, anonymous confessionals before every Mass; and actually had the Latin Mass before Pope Benedict made it more easily accessible. I was trying desperately, by clinging to things — my missal, Latin, my mantilla, my rosary, my Divine Mercy chaplet, everything — to force myself to believe. I even looked into Orthodoxy again — I actually agree with them about things like the filioque and some other issues to do with soteriology, if you take the fundamental premises of Christianity as given.

I left that parish the day the priest compared Obama to Hitler. You’ve just Godwinned me out of God, I thought. I had pushed aside all of my philosophical difficulties, simply not thinking about them — because really, my social and political beliefs were simply not reconcilable — but that was too much. The fact that they thought Masons were evil plotters, when as a Rainbow Girl I’d been surrounded by hundreds of benign Masons who couldn’t plot their way out of a paper bag? Oh well. The fact that they thought yoga as practiced in American yoga studios was malevolent and spiritual-but-not-in-a-good-way, when I’d taken yoga classes, knew that wasn’t true, and also knew that just about every person I knew who did yoga was pretty unspiritual? OK, whatever. Praying for the “pro-life” cause every week? Sigh, yes, I knew this was what I was signing up for being Catholic. The edict against any sex outside of marriage and even civil unions for gay folks? Ditto. But the Hitler comparison was just the last straw.

I went back to the Episcopal Church, but I felt half-hearted about it. I wanted to want it, I wanted to believe, I wanted to have an anchor and some hope, but last year I could no longer keep trying.

I just don’t believe in the core Christian teachings.

I want to.

I wish I did.

I wish that I did and that there was a way to reconcile what I know and believe about life with having faith, but I don’t and I can’t.

Still fascinated by religion, I read a lot about people of faith, and essays and memoirs by them. I miss liturgy — structure and ritual — and I miss the practice of study that having scriptures invites. (I know, I should just join Eastern Star now that they admit Majority Rainbow Girls who aren’t related to Masons and get my ritual fix, and go back to school for the study. Actually and unfortunately, I wouldn’t fit in with the Eastern Star women anymore either, alas. I would love, love, love to go to graduate school, but that’s a whole other issue to tangle with.)

It does feel good, though, to give up. The struggle and tension between things I knew to be true (and things I suspected to be true) and things I was willing myself to believe were true was painful and exhausting, and letting it snap and fly away was like taking off too-tight shoes after a long day of walking.

I don’t consider myself an atheist, but an agnostic. I don’t think the Christian story is true, but I am not discounting that a) I could be wrong or b) there may indeed be a God, or something we might as well call God. And in all honesty, I hope there is, because simply ceasing to exist at the moment of death is, to me, even worse than the thought of being fundamentally alone in the universe while I’m alive.

In some ways I feel like I wasted nearly twenty years trying to force myself into a mold I cannot fit in. But there’s no point in ruefulness. It was interesting, if nothing else. And maybe someday I will find something I believe and a niche into which I can fit. We shall see.

Part Two

Has nothing to do with religion and is considerably shorter!

My job. Oh God, my job. For three years I loved it, and then a rotation happened and they sent me out to talk to strangers all day, right? And honestly, it’s been pretty awful. There are days that are okay, and individual interactions that are nice, but overall, I’m tired and miserable and I am counting the days until I get rotated back.

If only I knew when that was…I have joked (okay, “joked”) that at least when you go to prison they tell you how long your sentence is. If I knew when my blessed release from this assignment was coming I could count down the days. I do at least know every day is one day closer to whenever that is. It’s been six months. Six months of my indeterminate sentence completed.

A day came several months ago where everything came to a head. Not going into details, but I knew that if I didn’t think of a solution, I was going to either get fired (not an easy thing to do with my employer, thankfully) or come home and do something rash.

In the end, I combined two approaches. One was suggested by a friend who hates/is as bad at customer service as I do/am: When she had to do this sort of thing, she pretended she was playing a role. It was a movie or a play, and she was simply playing the part of The Employee. To the extent that this doesn’t work, I…simply don’t care anymore. My mantra is “OK. Whatever.” A member gets mad or agitated? OK, whatever. Someone yells at me? OK, whatever. I get asked to do something I, with every fiber of my being, don’t want to do? OK, whatever. Nothing matters. Whatever. I’ll just do it, accept it, take it, because it doesn’t matter — whatever comes next is bound to be unpleasant, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

I do my best and don’t generally screw much up, but I have ceased to care what happens. I don’t even cringe away from all the things I have to do that I am so bad at — the talking to strangers all day, the endless patience I have to project when I am the least patient person on the planet. I liken it to the way when drunk drivers get in accidents, they’re not the ones who get hurt because they’re all floppy and relaxed. I am floppy and relaxed in the face of this rotation, in the face of all the strangers I have to deal with, in the face of all the  terrifying stuff they ask me to do.

I also take a lot of anti-anxiety meds,  but without Playacting and Not Caring, it wouldn’t be enough.

And it feels so much better. I’m still exhausted at the end of every day, but less so — I don’t have to go to bed at 7:30 PM anymore. I still get depressed and full of dread on Sunday nights, but I apply Oh Well Whatever and it eases a bit. I still will go buy a bottle of real Champagne and drink it all myself when I finally get rotated back into the back, but I think I can survive until then. Floppy. Relaxed.

As the old Ashleigh Brilliant postcard says: “I feel much better now that I’ve given up hope.”

Sounds very dreary, but I think of it more as just backfloating down the river of this assignment, not fighting the current, and waiting for it to be over.

So two struggles let go. I wonder if this will give me more emotional energy for other things!




Get Your Pre-Monday Right Here

Ye gods and little fishes, it’s Sunday night again.

My current job assignment has sent me to the doctor twice in four months for stress-and-anxiety-related stuff. Tomorrow I have to go for something else, and I am so miserable with work that there is an awful voice inside half-wishing it were something serious because then I might get a break. How terrible is that?!

I am looking for ways to have some energy in the evenings, so that I don’t end up in bed at 7:45 after being gone from 6:15 to 6:15. So far I’ve come up with: Have a cool shower as soon as I’ve fed the cats, to invigorate me and help me stay vertical; have a cup of espresso; do some gentle yoga. I know exercise is supposed to be good but the walking I have recently incorporated into my days has actually made me more exhausted at night (I know that’s just short-term adjustment). Having said that, when I go abroad I walk everywhere and it wears me out, so I need to do more of it here in order to be in some semblance of shape then!

Still…this is one hellish rotation for this here introvert with general anxiety!

Today has been a day of knitting, reading, a lot of black coffee, and The Day I Saw Your Heart. Is it just me, or does Mélanie Laurent look like a cross between Scarlett Johanssen and a young Rosanna Arquette? It was a good movie, and I caught quite a bit of the language, which makes me happy, but a bit wrenching as well. Nonetheless it was good to spend ninety minutes in France this afternoon.
And now I think I am going to be a totally irresponsible person and get fast food for dinner. If I were in France I might go to the local brasserie — like the one at Place de la Nation where I had my last lunch in Paris in 2012, the yummy Alsatian butter noodles and chicken — but since I’m not, and since I have not got cooking mojo today, I’m defaulting to lowest common denominator here.

Panic Hangover

This last week was a roller coaster — started in Member Services, where I love my cozy, surrounded-on-three-sides cubicle and my coworkers are lovely, but I’m still terrified; then went to hear David Sedaris read in Marin (he was hilarious and touching); had a blissfully lazy Thursday off; back to work Friday where I sort of froze and didn’t do so well; got an affectionate text from someone I once sort of dated, meant for whomever he’s dating now, which was awkward; screwed up a lace scarf three times before I realized I just wasn’t ever going to enjoy this pattern; and then spent Saturday trying to catch up on NaNoWriMo.

This was problematic. I had chosen for my November writing a quasi-autobiographical thing, because I thought it would be the easiest to zoom through in thirty days. No research or anything. While that is true, I am also disliking the narrator (hi! that would be me!) and finding reliving some unpleasant things (yay! divorce!) kind of harrowing.

On top of that, I’ve been writing in the dining room, when I normally spend more time in my room or in the TV room, and so I am near the cats’ water dish. I don’t know if my older cat is drinking more than usual or if I just never knew how much either of them drank because I was rarely in here. Coupled with reading on another blog about the death of a much-beloved old cat, and the depression engendered by my NaNoWriMo project, I spent last night following my cat around and actually catnapping her and making her come upstairs to sleep with me. She’s fine, really, she’s just 11.

But I lay in bed last night with my heart pounding and my stomach aflutter with worried butterflies. And today I have a hangover from it.

And it’s Sunday, which is its own day of anxiety and dread. GOOD TIMES.

I’ve been making a concerted effort to read happier things online, to avoid all but the most important news, to surround myself with uplifting things, because between work and my natural tendency toward depression and anxiety, I certainly don’t need any help being downcast.

It works, to a certain extent. Any suggestions for fun, bright, intelligent reading material or other entertainment welcome.

Lighting Advent candles soon should help too. i just bought these gorgeous handrolled beeswax candles:


You can buy the sheets to roll them yourself, if you're the handy sort.

You can buy the sheets to roll them yourself, if you’re the handy sort.

Now I’m off to have coffee with the same ex-sort-of-boyfriend who mis-texted me the other day. At least there’s a latte in my future, no?

Tomorrow, back to work, where I am going to try to steel myself and do better. At least I get to be ensconced in this cozy corner:

No one can pop up behind me and startle me anymore.

No one can pop up behind me and startle me anymore.

And, as always, I start the day by getting there early and making a strong cup of coffee. Whatever bribery works, eh?

Craptastic Week

It is no secret that I am not driven by career ambition. I work to support myself because I am single and not possessed of an independent fortune. That’s the only reason.

I started working full time in 1990. From that year until April 2010, I was miserable. Sometimes I was acutely miserable. Sometimes I was vaguely miserable. There were short bouts of optimism (the four times I started new jobs and thought maybe this time I will like it!), bracketed by unhappiness.

When I started my current job, there was a rough patch during probation when I was worried things might not go well. But they did, and for three and a half years I have been … content. Seriously! It was a miracle, and I do not use that term lightly. I didn’t cry every day. I didn’t contemplate wild escape plans. I didn’t dread every waking weekday moment. It was glorious!

And then this week happened.

Unlike everywhere else I’ve ever worked (or heard of), my office does rotations. They periodically blow up everything and almost everyone changes into a different unit, regardless of their talents. If I ran the universe, people would be put where they’re good and left there to excel, but that’s not how it’s done.

I liked my quiet, very-little-interaction, routine job. I got rotated into Member Services. Strangers all day every day. They’re going to make me do presentations — me, who bribed my high school government teacher by offering to do two reports for every one everyone else did as long as I didn’t have to do oral reports; me, who speaks at lightning speed when she has to speak in public; me, the most introverted person anyone knows.

I cried throughout the entire department meeting and then sobbed in the bathroom for a half hour.

Later, I did talk to HR and to the Assistant Director and they’re being compassionate. My coworkers are being great. I am still sick to my stomach.

The flip side of this disastrous coin is that this, too, is temporary. Eighteen to thirty-six months and then, God willing, I will be rotated out of there, back into the back, away from the flood of strangers and public speaking.

The HR director, who is amazed that I can travel alone, asked the other day how I could do that if Member Services terrifies me. I told her that when you’re traveling, you are working within certain parameters. You know how airports work — SFO is different from Prague’s Ruzyne, yes, but they’re airports and they function essentially the same way. Cabs, hotels, museums, restaurants — all pretty standard. (Notice that I don’t go trekking through Nepal. I go to Europe.) Sure, there can be curve balls, but basically they’re within the limits you know and understand. When my luggage got lost, or when I got the 24-hour bug and was throwing up alone in Paris, then yes, I wanted someone with me. But even then, you know how it goes — luggage shows up eventually; you feel better eventually.

Also, in these cases, you’re the stranger someone else must assist. People will generally be nice to you, or at least neutral. In Member Services, though there are some parameters, I am not the person people need to be nice to. I’m the person who needs to be nice. I’m the person who needs to take it (to a certain extent) if people are nasty or difficult, when I shut down completely during confrontation. I either get furious or I want to cry, and in either case I am speechless.

The good part is that everyone is committed to making this as non-horrible as possible. I have awesome, awesome coworkers, for whom I am genuinely grateful. They were all deeply concerned and kind; no one was saying “Pfft! She needs to get the hell over it!” Thank God.

So that was my week of deep unhappiness. I fled Friday night and was so happy that this weekend is one hour longer than the usual. Now it’s Sunday. The rotation isn’t official until a week from Tuesday, when we get back from Veteran’s Day, but there will be transitional things this week. I am going to look into getting a better doctor at Kaiser so I can get better anti-anxiety meds, and otherwise I think I need to function on autopilot for a bit.

I did, however, write my NaNoWriMo quota last night.

I get one for every day I write my quota. I forgot to take one Friday so I had two yesterday.

I get one for every day I write my quota. I forgot to take one Friday so I had two yesterday.

So Much Crazy, So Little Time

Unlike normal offices (to the extent that there is such a thing), we get rotated from unit to unit every so often. I love my quiet, kind of dull, almost-no-public-interaction job, where I know what I’m doing and I’m not anxious. The lack of anxiety is a first. This has been the best three years of my work life. In November — one of my favorite months! — we will have rotations. No matter where I go it will be less of a good fit than where I am now, and if I have to go to Member Services and deal with strangers all day every day face to face, there’s going to be a Klonopin Rx in my future. And a lot of alcohol in my evenings.

To say that I was full of dread is a bit of an understatement. OK, it’s a massive, massive understatement. I think it’s a terrible way to run an office — I think you should find out what people are good at, and leave them there to excel — but it’s entirely out of my hands. I just want to stay in my quiet corner under the radar, left alone, but that is not going to happen. So!

I was seeing my hynotherapist yesterday to work on the writer’s block, and she did some eye movement desensitization with me around that. So going from 10 on a 1-10 scale of terror to something around a 1 was good. I’m feeling resigned. I’m hoping that resignation is a way station on the way to finding a bright side. I guess learning something new will be good for my brain.  I can’t say what Member Services would be good for — learning to handle being stressed out and scared all day every day? OK, I need to stop that! It will be fine… it will be fine... nothing is forever, especially in this office.

Previous to this little work bombshell, I slipped on the stairs coming down to feed the cats on Wednesday, and bent my right leg to the side and back — so my foot was up near my hip as I slid down the stairs. OH JOY. I stayed home with ice and ibuprofen. I went to work Thursday but just getting around was exhausting so I took yesterday off. It’s better now but still uncomfortable and makes for slow going.

And finally, although I’ve lived here a year and it was here when I got here, apparently my AC unit is a violation of the HOA rules. It’s the only thing that makes my bedroom livable in summer. Much panicking ensued. I have a request in to the architecture committee to be able to have it up July – October. We shall see.

I would like a stiff drink and a long bath, but I’m a little worried about mixing vodka and ibuprofen, and about bending my leg to get into the tub.

Time, Money, Home, Sleep

Note: Clearly, a bunch of things far more important than my self-indulgent nattering have gone on this week. Having said that, I don’t think there’s anything useful I can add except for relief that it’s over (see last paragraph of entry). I’ve felt like hiding under a blanket for a few days now, but on the other hand, I have not been personally affected by events and I don’t want to steal other people’s legitimate suffering in a drama-queen sort of way. And with that:

Time: Ever since I moved, the evenings have felt so truncated. I do usually get home about a half hour later than I once did, but it seems that I just have time to eat, clean up, and relax a little before I have to go to bed. It doesn’t help that I’ve been going to bed really early (for me) — between 9:30 and 10:30. What on earth is making time speed up like that? Time off always goes faster but this is ridiculous.

Money: I just paid my taxes, and I had an $1,800 vet adventure with Alexander a couple of weeks ago. SO NOT AMUSED. He’s fine, and the friend whose cat the vets think may have made him sick helped out, but sheesh. That’s certainly money I could have used for something else. It led to another bout of Why Did I Buy A House When I Could Have Gone to Europe Every Year Instead? I keep reminding myself that the money I put into the house is not like putting money into a car or various junk, but more like putting it into an investment account. Still, I’ve spent money round here that I really didn’t have to, I guess, but I wanted to — replacing the front door with a steel, you-will-not-be-kicking-me-in model; having a nicer faucet in the kitchen than the wobbly one that was here; buying a really nice dining table and a lovely two-chair bistro set for the little balcony; having my handyman finally hang my sari tapestry properly instead of me hanging it up again via thumbtack; replacing the doorbell that was too corroded to really hear; buying a standalone freezer. It’s not like I recarpeted the whole place (I wish) or gutted it to the studs or anything, but the upshot is that my travel account is a but a wisp and it made me sad. In a First World Problem sort of way. Cue the tiny violins!

Home: I was reading something about the genesis of this development and they called them “luxury condos and townhouses.” Granted, when they were new, just prior to the crash, they went for about twice what I paid for mine. And also granted, I am not an expert on what luxury is. I only saw five properties before I bought this one, and one of the others was in this development as well. Comparing those five, then yes, it’s kinda luxurious. I suppose my big garden bathtub should have told me that. But as I was discussing with the aforementioned handyman, some things were done here really nicely (there’s good tile in the bathrooms and kitchen and hardwood in the dining room; I am all ready for central A/C if I wanted to hook it up; I have granite countertops and good appliances [although the fridge is a bit of a lemon and will be replaced next year]; the windows are double-paned and they almost soundproof the place; speaking of soundproof, you never ever ever hear the neighbors) and then there are things like the kinda crappy cabinets, the not-so-fabulous-in-either-quality-or-color carpet, and the lightweight front door.

And yet, at the same time that I’m kind of ruing buying a place, I’m thinking about how I want to put wood floors in the living room, entry way, and kitchen (I don’t like tile in the kitchen; especially not the same rosy-beige tile as is in the bathrooms); recarpet the stairs to and the floor of my bedroom (oh that will be fun); buy blackout shades for the tv room and my bedroom; get Levelors for the office/guest room; and on and on. I know I won’t do it all at once, but I also think about how I didn’t buy a place at 25 or 30 or 35, but at 45, so I don’t have 30 years to do whatever… well, I might, but considering neither of my parents lived to be 75 and that I’d like to do these things while I’m still young enough to have a few years to enjoy them….

Sleep: I’ve been so exhausted lately — going to bed early, barely able to stay awake at work, miserable. And then I hit on a twofold, and utterly blindingly obvious, idea. Oh heavens, the facepalmingly obvious is apparently news to me. 1.) Take the 7:07 bus to work instead of the 6:37. I still get there in time, although I don’t get a kick-back thirty minutes before I start. But I get to sleep for those thirty minutes instead! A half hour in the morning is precious. 2.) Yes, I need to have plenty of warning and time to hit the snooze; I get too panicky and disoriented if you try to get me out of bed on the first go. But instead of having the first alarm go off at 4:20 AM (only ten minutes shy of two hours before I had to get up) and then having two alternating backup alarms on my phone going off in the five o’clock hour (which was kind of like being locked in a fun house, actually) I’ve changed to having one go off at five (an hour and a half ahead, give or take) and then the backup non-radio alarm going off after six. I may tweak it further, but considering I have to get up between 4 and 5 to feed the cats, I still won’t get entirely unbroken sleep. But it’s done wonders — I have gotten so much more real sleep, and yet I still have enough of a warning that I can get up without flailing.

And now, it’s a lazy Friday night after a hellish week for the United States. So glad this week is over!

Three Day Weekend — Hallelujah

This has been a rather long week… it was hotter than hell here in the Bay Area, and the AC at work was not coping at all on Monday or Tuesday. I decided that if it wasn’t working Wednesday I was turning around and coming home — where there isn’t AC either, but where I can open windows, wear a tank top, and have a cool shower when required. Also, I’ve been known to take a drive in the air-conditioned car when I’m desperate.

There are some changes afoot at work I don’t like; I am on an obligatory committee I don’t want to be on; I came home to a letter from my beloved doctor saying she was going to a more specialized field and dropping all her patients; I’ve lost my knitting mojo and am feeling a bit deflated. Also I’m back on BART instead of the métro and I am noting a distinct lack of fromage frais.

The heat having broken makes me feel better. Once it’s truly brisk my brain will work better and my spirits will perk up. But I’m still battling a bit of the “I suck at everything so why bother?” gloom, even as I tell myself I am absolutely going to do NaNoWriMo this year.

I may also have ordered a few Streetwise maps for some places I’m considering going when next I flee the country. They haven’t arrived yet but should probably tomorrow. They actually also come in handy when reading books set in foreign cities, to get the lay of the land in my head. When traveling they’re my hands-down favorite — easy to read, durable, and a reasonable size.

And now I have had dinner, am sitting in the living room with the cats and a glass of Grand Marnier, uploading pictures to Flickr. Ahh.

LinkedIn Memory Lane

This morning I got a LinkedIn request from an old friend, which led to me flicking through the people they thought I might know. That was a trip — I have people from college, who are doing all sorts of things all over the world; people from my time in publishing who are still working in that world; people from my time at Excite who are doing all sorts of entrepreneurial and Internet-based things or, in one case, working for the State Department in Jerusalem; and people from my time at The Company of Doom (no link; what are you, crazy?) who are either still there or still working, mostly, in benefits administration. Talk about a wide-ranging cast of characters.

Reading some of them is sort of like reading an expanded version of the class notes from my alumnae mag. It makes me veer between inspired and daunted, because in the former case, there are so many Mills alums who do things like win fellowships and end up living in Italy permanently, or living on a ranch and writing, or what have you. (Of course, if you’re living in your hometown and working as a cashier or a secretary or an office manager, you’re less likely to write in about your adventures.) I used to joke that there was a gene for that sort of thing that was missing from my DNA — I started thinking that when a high school friend, who came from a similar socioeconomic background to mine, went to Sweden our junior year, then went to Cornell, where she was somehow able to afford to join a sorority. My reaction was pretty much, “Wha –? How’d she do that?”

In the LinkedIn case I think it’s the Chutzpah Gene, or something similar. I was reading the self-descriptions of a couple of my former Excite bosses and though I think that I would be bored senseless by a lot of  what they do (anything that could ever be covered in an MBA course is soporific to me), I am amazed at their energy, guts, and confidence. How else can you develop, lead, and create in that arena  without a lot of confidence? It’s one thing to do it at an accounting firm, where the parameters are well defined, but in a creative milieu it takes another animal altogether.

Then there is another of my former Excite bosses, who is …  a librarian! GO HIM! I actually laughed in joy when I saw that.

The whole review made me thoughtful about my career path, if you can call it that. It certainly didn’t take any sort of predictable path! And while I suppose I could feel bad that I didn’t end up living in Italy* or on a ranch or as an executive at a cool company, I’m really quite happy being a civil servant. It’s much less fraught with anxiety than either Silicon Valley or the Company of Doom, it pays well, and I go home at the end of the day and don’t spend the evening worrying about it. That’s actually priceless.

*Okay, yeah, the living in Italy people still make me sad.