Burnout

I asked myself the other day why I wasn’t writing. I came up with a few interesting reasons.

The first is that my main thing to write about is my job. My job has been very, very consuming since last summer. It got worse in October and has steadily encroached into my free and personal time. This leaves me with less to write about because I have not written about my job here. It also leaves me with less energy to write because the demands of my job have become consumptive. It also leaves me tired and litless because my job absorbs a huge amount of creative and emotional energy.

The second is that I lost the schedule of writing I had developed when I stopped writing about Eve. The ‘what’ to write about thinned out. My job and my story ideas are both things to write about. Inty is something to write about as well but I find it hard to write about him since he mostly trots around and acts like a hyperactive asshole harassing the dogs and cats or wanting to be rubbed nonstop. While amusing even I struggle to describe it. Also, work again. I see him for 1-2 hours on the days that I work. My entire personal life is condensed into 1-2 hours where I come home, make dinner, pet the dogs, talk to my husband, and go to bed.

The third is my slowly healing burnout. I’m better, but it has taken a year. I wanted to be where I am now, at this time last year. It didn’t happen. That frustrates me. I cannot get that time back. It also highlights my habit of underestimating the impact that things can have. The two years that I plunged into the morass of Eve Online’s society as an elected rep was a fascinating, wonderful, and destructive time. Destructive because I am an introvert and I forced myself out of my shell.

People tell you to fake it until you make it. To do something until it becomes the truth. When it came to me being some type of social presence, I never became it. I never made it. I stayed myself and the pressure of it started to crush me. It is amusing in its disappointment. I was supposed to become more, bigger, better. Everyone swore to me that I’d grow into it and this change would happen.

Instead, I’ve suffered a year of exhaustion that I almost wonder if I’ll recover from. I know I will because I have started to. Yet, small socializations are still hugely damaging. With my busier work life and the unfortunate situation of taking on responsibilities in my personal life, I struggle to have enough quiet me time.

It makes me a bit mad. Work, well I could step back and get my old position back. I’m rather sure that I would be more unhappy. As for home? I am giving up one of my days off every week to work on cleaning out my mother’s house because she will not do it on her own. I find that I am becoming resentful. I don’t want to do it and it makes me mad that she can sit back and just abandon her life and intrude on mine. That is because I am enabling her. Now that I’ve gotten myself into this I have to get myself back out and I can kick her out and tell her to go clean up her own life but I’ve decided not to. None of that stops the resentment that I am having about it. I can’t seem to just give up on life and not do anything unless anyone helps me but she has. It is the story of our relationship and I’ve told her that she has this year to get her things together and figure out how she plans to handle the rest of her life.

The loss of a day shouldn’t matter much, but it does. My job has been taking my other free days. I’m having weeks where I have things to do for the bulk of the day every single day. It is wearing at me. I really do want to be left alone more often. I don’t know if work will improve. I doubt it. I have a time limit for my mother. As for myself? I’ll get through this but I will take a lot of learning away from the past few years.

2017 Seedlings

I planted the seedlings on the 26th of February. I wanted to wait but my excitement bit me. The overly warm winter has set the trees to flowering. The chances of an early warm spring is here and it may mean moving my garden out weeks early.

My setup is a bit neater this year. Last year I had lights hanging under my craft table and crawled on the floor to do anything. It was amusing but very impractical and a pain in the but when we started to harden the plants off with trips outside.

 

This year I purchased a cheap storage rack to hold the trays. My main criteria was shelf height. Lowes wound up being the winner with a plastic shelving unit with plenty of height. I use a space heater to warm the room. This is my spare bedroom which is a closet for my work clothing, crafts and our linen.

Once my unit was together I played with ropes to hang the lights. The lights are longer than the rack. I am okay with it but things are a touch awkward because of it. I could buy grow lights but the moment you search for plant specific lights the price tag jumps from twenty dollars to sixty. It is the similar fate of all hobbies.

The Rapunzel were the first tomatoes up. This is a type that is new to the market. I believe this is its second year on the market. I picked it up because it is supposed to have trellis that trail forty cherry tomatoes long. That sounds super fun. I am pleased that they both germinated within hours of each other.

My lights are on a switch that talks to a cute switch on the wall and lets me turn them on and off with a button click. I turn them on when I get up and off when I get home. The plants get about sixteen hours of light with a rest period.

The rest of them have slowly worked their way up. The common wisdom when planting is to plant 3 seeds per tray and keep the strongest. I decided to plant one seed per tray and see what happened. My results? One seed did not germinate. That is the Brandywine hybrid.

The Brandywine hybrid I have a lot of hopes for, so I planted a second seed. My hopes are thus: I loved the Brandywine tomatoes I got last year but the plant produced about 6 large, beautiful, delicious fruit. It looked like crap the entire year and struggled in a pathetic, anemic haze. I got a hybrid to add some vigor to the plant. In my container environment I have to weed out plants that struggle.

What a difference a week makes. I have a fan blowing across the seedlings. This helps the soil to dry out. I prefer to add water then have the soil stagnate and mold. The first true leaves are in and the second is coming along.

This year I decided to try miracle grow seedling starter soil. It is doing well, it drains well, and the seedlings are thriving.

The only tomatoes I am waiting on are my ones from the University of Florida.  If you are interested in the source of food, the story of the Garden Gem is interesting.

Over in the second tray the peppers have started to pop up. I planted them a solid ten days behind the tomatoes. They have a longer germination time.

I am also trying Ground Cherries again.I have been fretting that I should have added more seeds. I am pleased to announce that I went up to check on them and I have a tendril of green breaking through.

Garden 2017 is off to a great start.

The Joy of Appliances

Two years ago, while wandering through Home Depot and idly speculating on the future of our kitchen appliances I came across something I had never seen. A double stove oven.

This was not a double wall oven. This was not a stove top. It was a standing stove, the kitchen classic. The oven featured not one but two entirely separate oven chambers. It was also bright purple inside which I found a bit hideous. The drawer that is often at the bottom of the oven and used for storage was nonexistent. In my last home, that drawer was a warming drawer. I guess you can stick pies in it. I never did because it always filled with pet hair.

Over the last two years I’ve revisited that oven many times. I’ve examined it and started to grow fond of its purple color. Well, this year was the year that my husband agreed to buy me new kitchen appliances. The ones in our house date from the building of the house. They are about sixteen years old now. We’ve had to replace the furnace and water heater. The furnace replacement was last year and while worth it, ate into our extra budget.

This year, the dishwasher has become a pain. The microwave has entered a new temporal reality where it displays its own time and my oven has started to challenge me on what is the true meaning of cooking time.

It is an unpleasant reminder that home ownership is not as smooth as one might wish it to be. We took on a house that was eleven years old. It is now six years later and things are hitting their end of life. I am somewhat amused to think that we plan to move in a year. I will add that despite the plans to move, we will keep this home and rent it. The changes are not valueless and will hopefully afford us years of no needed repairs with future renters.

I am still excited about the stove.

An LG, double oven stove. It has five burners. The center girdle lifts off to reveal an oval burner down the center. The entire surface is grated and creates a pot slid-able surface. The useless center bit of the stove that gets to hot is now a functional work space.

The husband asked for burgers. These were the easiest burgers ever. No overheating and burns like the skillet due to the thickness of the girdle. I’m already in love at how easy some things will be to cook in the future.

Distraction

At many points in my life, I have found myself distracted from what I wanted to do. Those distractions have come accidentally and intentionally.

My writing goals have not been getting filled. Some of that has been my workload mixed with my struggle to find creativity before 2300 hours. The rest of it has been the fact that I have been stuck in a waiting pattern.

On Friday, the memo came out that would move my co-worker and I out of our positions. It did not have our names on the list and we breathed a small sigh of relief. It was not a huge sigh. Our position is no longer secure. We can no longer assume that they see the value in what we do. We can drown to the magic of moving numbers to fit goals that have nothing to do with silly things like work.

It is very frustrating.

Since learning about the potential change in status a month ago, it has been hard to focus. The knowledge that I might lose what I worked hard for, gnaws at me. I find myself demoralized and demotivated at the heavy workload deemed ‘not as much’. I do not feel lazy. I have more overtime in the last year then I have ever had before. All of it from necessity.

It left me sitting for a month, sighing. Would I go back to midnights? Would I have to go back to waking up at five in the morning and feel as if my life was slipping away in an exhausted fog? I had enjoyed the last year of work. I was close to reaching a major life point with paying off my bills. What did all of it mean, now? It had taken so much courage to try for the position that I am now in.

It boils down to courage, or more accurately, self confidence. My struggle with it stops me from believing that I can just apply for a position and get it. Instead, I examine it, look at all of its angles and debate my abilities against it. I don’t care for failure. I do not mind failing but I do not court it. It is an abnormal feeling in my career. Most want you to just try for it and see if you make it or not. But I do not care for jumping into the abyss nor do I have the confidence to believe that I will land unharmed.

It leaves behind focus. Focus so that I have more control over my future. For, I have no control now. Not outside of the basics such as going to work vs skipping and being fired. I find that I dislike it.

Civilization VI

I waited months to buy Civ 6. I picked it up during a Christmas sale when it was about half price. I loved Civilization 5 and 6 was just waiting for me.

Well, Civilization is truly a horrible game when it comes to eating time. How a game that involves actions and rounds can eat through time like it does, I am not sure. But there I was, trapped in my game, learning how to play. My evenings and days off started to vanish. I’d click round after round and suddenly it would be bed time and my empire was struggling with its amenity needs. Perhaps taking over Spain in the first twenty rounds had put to much stress on me but I was launching the mars mission. I was close!

I lost way to much time in the last few weeks. My game started to go well. Brazil got uppity and they were winning the culture war. Were. After I took over all of their major cities they backed down. The Congo kept asking me to give them my Levi Jeans and cash for toys. I just took over the Congo as well. He kept declaring war on me for not spreading my religion and then wouldn’t stop, leaving me under war for hundreds of years.

But the night before last, America launched its last Mars unit and won.

Now I can go back to being productive.

A Start

Habit and tradition are annoying. January is a traditional time of year to start new. Sadly, I am in a position where I have to hang off the side of the bandwagon. Things at work have reset themselves and settled down to some extent and I can look at moving forward. I’ve complained about how much I’ve worked since last summer. The complaints have not been exaggerations.  It came to the detriment of my garden and my creativity. I cannot create when exhausted.

Writing is tiring. My writing is a bit worse. I find myself most productive after 11pm, just around the time that I need to go to bed. Earlier last year, between February and the end of April I wrote about 100k words. I need to find that energy again this year, but I’ve been so damn tired. The little things that need to be done every day just pile up and what is worse is that I struggle to be a productive writer during daylight when I have the most time. Staying up is an option but I also have to do silly things like work. I envy those that can just throw their job away and attempt to become successful in their writing.

My garden was neglected because I worked until 10pm. It is hard to garden in the dark. This year, I do hope that I will not be called to the feats of overtime that I was this year. It was rebellious and I often went 2 weeks with only a day off before another 2 week cycle.

Now, before the year crawls away as this last one has, I am going to try to jump start myself. I’m going to submit what I’ve written to some agents and see what comes. Hopefully, the pressure of that will let me finish what is truly a handful of writing and then the rewrite for smoothness. I suspect that being at the end of the project has its own stress that I’ve expressed in my lack of finishing. I can sit and let days just drift away while my mind spins in slow, exhausted circles.

Fear, I suspect, of sucess stands in my way. So, I must walk over it because I will not overcome it by just sitting.

My seeds are sorted. My schedule, while at risk of changing, is for now stable. My words are written. Now, I must take one of those leaps into the void to see what is there.

 

19 days silent

I am a bit ashamed of my silence. I have not actually been quiet. I have some random half written posts. Work, as it has been for the past few months, was horrid. That was compounded by the fact that I may lose my position. Then I got a cold. As I worked through the cold, I was about to go on vacation and had so much to get done at work before I left. Then, vacation where I kept a hand written journal.

Now I am back and need to catch up. But right now, I am trying to organize my seeds as part of cleaning up my desk which is a developing disaster area with new year stuff.

I had to send some items back. I had to fill out property tax stuff. I have stacks of seed packets trying to vanish. I even have an unopened box that was a random purchase. I’m a mess and not the type of mess that I planned to be at this time this month. I had hoped to be finishing my writing revisions. I had not planned to get horribly sick or have so much overtime at work that I my creative ability has drained from my ears.

Vacation was nice and I will write a series on that shortly.

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This is my little seed organization attempt. It is going quite well. A lot of cutting and shaping to fit into the pouches.

Every dog is a new challange

Every dog is different. Siblings from a litter will still have their own quirks. My first true dogs (not counting my Yorkshire Terrier that hated me), Rakunna and Ceasar were Great Pyrenees and siblings. They were very similar in temperament. Sweet, intelligent, and calm. Ceasar was a thief. He’d steal food from counter tops. We had to hid things on top of the refrigerator. After one failed attempt, Rakunna gave up that lifestyle.

Over the years as I’ve matured, made mistakes, had successes, and science has progressed, as has my dog raising. Yet, life is not static and I have never been able to raise two dogs in identical situations. I’ve moved. My work schedules have changed. My social life has changed. Nyx, for instance, was raised on a mountain with ten acres of land. She had few chances to see daily things like cars and people walking down the sidewalk. Nox on the other hand, moved  five times over a decade and was with me through my twenties and the changing jobs and schedules, cars, and lifestyle. While my training efforts were similar the environments were different.

Intuition has his own set of unique aspects of environment. My mother now lives with me. She retired a few years ago and came to hang out. She never left. Fortunately, we like her and it helps us meet life goals of travelling. It also means that Intuition has never had to tolerate erratic schedules and long days in his crate as all of my other dogs have.

This has created an interesting problem. Intuition does not know how to calm down and sleep or be still unless he is in his crate. Some of this is his personality. The rest is because he has never had to face twelve hour stretches alone. He has had a few here and there when everyone’s schedule desyncs, but I suspect it has been two. My mother even plans her trips around my work schedule to decrease the stress on the pets. This includes that ancient rickety kitties that eat four times a day now.

Inty struggles with the television. We just don’t use our television much anymore. Our computers satisfy our needs. We’ve also moved away from consoles over the years, perfecting the ability to multitask on our desktops.

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That leads to barking at StarTrek. He calms down but the first reaction is growling and barking at the strangers he can both hear and see.

That also connects to our other problem. He doesn’t know how to lay down and do anything. Some of that may come from our couchless lifestyle. We have one couch and it is currently acting as a backup desk for stuff of my husbands. His HTC Vive box is there as is a motorcycle helmet he is trying to get a bluetooth speaker installed on. He also cleaned off his desk last year and never moved the box of stuff he cleaned off. He stares at the couch sometimes and says that it’d be nice to use it. I mention that everything on it belongs to him. To be fair, even if he were to move his stuff off of it, the couch is two individual seats and not a single spread couch. We used to have one and got rid of it due to lack of need.

All of that means Inty has never spent time lounging with us on the couch. He has never spent time physically lounging with us until now and he has absolutely no idea what to do.

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He is a cuddly dog. The thing is that he expects for there to be something else to do after he has cuddled us. Instead, we wanted him to just stay laying down with us. He was very confused and it led to a restless night for all of us and some very bruised legs as we introduced him to the concept of sleeping in the bed.

Normally, I’d have introduced this around six months, once he was potty trained. Inty proved to be a challenge in hat respect. His destructive chewing was relentless at that point. If he had something with fabric in it, he ate it. Even his beds are all deeply scarred.

His chewing has improved but it has taken longer then I expected for him to calm down and for the girls to start tolerating him. I’ve also never had dogs hate a puppy with such an intense passion as Sage and Autumn has expressed with Intuition. I blame that on not having a strong personality like Nyx or Nox around to correct him early. Autumn is a very concerned dog and Sage has reached grumpy old lady status. Intuition is bold, headstrong, and obnoxious in his size and youth. The girls loathe him and often look at me with a sigh, wondering why I hate them so to bring this hyper, licking, thing into their lives.

Still… last night was a good test. While I am far from rested, he did manage to get a few hours of sleep and the bed is whole. I tried to get him to lay with me this morning but he was more interesting in licking the comforter where Autumn had been.

I’ve never had to teach a dog to settle down and snooze in comfort. I do hope it will be one of the easier challenges to overcome.

 

Staple Solving

I woke up this morning with the blurry remembrance of delicious food waiting for me. After a few dispirited wanderings around the kitchen, slowly it bubbled forth that I planed to get lunch at Chipolte. I have one across the street but I am proud that I do not indulge regularly. I also make myself walk when I do wish to go. It is only a five minute trot including waiting for crosswalks, but it leaves a general feeling of warm productivity.

Today, we added a side trip to the grocery store in the shopping center. There my mother’s plan to buy two apples and two oranges evolved into an elderly black lady telling her that she was beautiful and complaining about Trump. My mother also picked up an entire box of clementines.

Once she extracted herself from the exuberance of the other woman, something that included hugs and random topics, we purchased the fruit and I told her that she was not allowed to turn down my suggestions of bringing the tote bags in the future.

A bit of momentary cleverness made us ditch the wooden box the clementines come in to save weight. From there, right on time for our pick up, we strolled into Chipolte.

When I order my burrito bowl, I often get the guacamole on the side. The bag of our order was presented to me, neatly stapled closed. My cashier says, “I guess the side guac is in there but its closed.”

He then begun to ring me up.

I blinked at him as the realization that he was not going to check the bag sunk in. Having had my fair share of incorrect orders over the years I cheerfully say, “Staples can be defeated” and popped the bag open. There lay my two containers of guacamole.

I paid and left.

Now. Some people may wish to have a stapled bag. Why? I don’t know nor do I need to address it. I will just accept that may be a very important thing for some. But, they had a staple to staple it closed. The idea can be presented that the same stapler can be used to address the issue of resealing the bag.

It was his defeat that interested me. He accepted the staple as a hurdle to great to waste his time on. One may go, “Of course, why should he care?” The why is because customer service is a harsh profession and decreasing the obstacles in your day is a valuable skill. The chance is high that not all bags have sides of guac. By addressing those bags that do have said sides he increases the chance of handing someone a complete meal. This is how he saves himself the hassle of angry customers. For food service is one of those areas where humanity is stripped from both parties.

Now to lunch.

The First

On the 31st you are supposed to discuss the previous year. On the first you are supposed to make resolutions and look ahead. The world does a soft reset and potential opens up.

Then one is allowed to run off into a state of alcoholic indulgence. Allowed by society on this one day to do what one can do any day but upon which the double standard of alcohol tolerance frowns upon.

Or at least, that is how it seems. Perhaps, it is not a reality but a way for people to give themselves the opportunity to restart and refresh. A time to break cycles or entrench oneself deeper into habit.

For me, this is a year of reset. I’ve created some goals. I’d like to start taking daily pictures. I’ve wanted to do a 365 picture journal for a long time. This is the first time that I remember that goal on the first of the year. I normally remember it around the 7th or so.

I also have a finished book that needs its clean up and I need to start submitting it to publishers.

In these last few weeks I’ve allowed myself to drown in nothing at all. Video games, reading, infosurfing. It has been pleasurable. However, I ordered my tomato seeds for the garden this year and that somewhat activated me. It is time to start planning and organization. My planting is only a few months away.

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Not that my romaine cares. January 1st and it is still growing.