Category Archives: General

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.

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.

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.

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.

Fall Cleaning

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Intuition kept me company as I started in on the fall cleaning. He has learned to jump onto the bed but not off of it. We keep non-slip bath mats by the bottom half of the bed for the dogs to use as landing and launch pads. It is amusing because our cleaners move them to a more normal position by where your feet would go. We always move them back because they are for the dogs. Our bed is high and the floors are hard and smooth. After a few to many slips and falls we installed the mats for safety.

I decided today that I wanted to clean my room. I need to arrange my yarn into something a bit more coherent. My room easily becomes a mess. I hate folding and laundry so it all piles up. This is our third bedroom and it functions as a craft room, bedding storage room, and my closet. It is not a large room and quickly becomes overwhelmed if I don’t keep up with it.

Throwing things away has been on my mind. My mother and I are about to start a major house cleaning project for her house. It is full of clutter and stuff she was to depressed to deal with. Now that we need to sell it, everything must go.

Our plans to move in 2 or so years makes me eye things such as my own clutter.  This helped to spur me upstairs with several trash bags and a mission to throw it out, even if it is in good condition. We have few charities around here that take old and worn things. I’m tired of trying to find things a home. Today, it was to the trash.

I had some things that didn’t fit, things I found uncomfortable, and clothing that has been in the closet untouched for five years. I threw it away, I cleaned the build up of clutter, boxes, packing material, and such. Over the course of the morning I hauled five bags of trash out to the curb for the trash to pick up that afternoon.

I was at my desk when the trash came. I watched as they took away my bags and then I noticed one of the guys open a bag. He pulled out a pair of shoes I had thrown away, box and all. They were pretty shoes, but they didn’t fit my wide feet as I wanted. I had tried to force it and gave up wondering why I was hurting my feet. He took these shoes and then opened the other shoe boxes and unloaded them. He also grabbed two dresses and took it all up to the front of the truck. Then they continued on.

To the web I went and a few searches later I discovered that this is normal. Now, I am familiar with people going through stuff at the curb as well as free items being left. I was just not prepared for them to open the trash bags. Knowing it happens and seeing it happen to my (ex)stuff  left me feeling a big strange, but I hope that they can be more productive with them then I have been.

 

Read the fine print

I paid off my car this morning. Only a month early, but I am pleased that I had the extra money available to do it.

My auto loan was with Capital One Auto Finance. I have used them for my last two vehicles because they would approve you for the loan and send you a check. You then walk into the dealer with that check and after the bartering and haggling, at that moment when they are going to whip out their paperwork and get more money out of you, you instead whip out your chip and slide it over.

How much irritation that caused. There are kick backs when you finance from the dealer that is part of why they sell a car for the price they sell it. Most people finance through them. While I’d love to be a cash sale, taking control of my own loan was the next best thing.

While pondering the soon to be end of my vehicle loan and the next several years that I plan to live without a car payment, I did some reading on my auto loan bank. I read financial news. I started in the mid two thousands when my credit score was good and life was looking up. Then the financial crisis happened, all my rates got jacked up, my credit score plummeted and I was struggling. I learned what I had done wrong and what the bank had decided to do and how I was caught up in it. I followed the law changes that beat the banks back and saw my own financial pressures improve over time.

I learned about banks. I moved accounts, got some better rates, and while I am no financial guru I learned a bit about the nuts and bolts. Well, in my reading I decided to read about my auto loan company. It was interesting reading the negative reviews from people who had their vehicles repossessed for various reasons. One caught my attention. Someone had changed their auto pay and struggled with double debits that spiraled out of control. They learned that paying early did not ensure that their bill had been moved forward and when they complained they were told they needed to manage their automatic deductions better.That stuck with me. My loan has been on auto pay as it decreased the interest rate another half point. With no plan to not pay for the car, it was a reasonable deal for me.

Today, when I paid off my car, I read the big yellow warning that sat above the ‘accept button’. That warning proved to be very interesting. It said that although I had paid off the loan this would not automatically cancel any reoccurring payment. I would have to cancel that or it would still be taken out and I would wind up with a credit.

The first responses are things like, how stupid is that? Very, in my opinion. The systems I suspect are separate somehow. The onus is placed on the borrower to make sure the automatic payments are cancelled if the loan is paid off early. At least they told me, I guess.

I figured how to cancel the payment. Now, in two weeks, I should receive my car title instead of a payment withdrawn notification. That will be pleasant.

 

I no longer brush my hair

I have met a few women that do not know what color their hair is. They have died it so long (normally blond) that they have no idea what color it is. For many women with lighter colored hair, their hair darkens as they age. For those who have embraced blond and various light shades the hair they had when they started dying it and the hair they have now may be quite different.

I always thought it was strange that they did not know their hair color. I admit I felt a bit snotty about it and their obsession with being blond. What I never did was compare it to my own hair routine. I defined the straightening of my hair as taming it and keeping it neat and presentable.

What I did not think about was the fact that I do not know what my natural hair texture is. I have straightened my hair or had it straightened since I was around eight to ten. I remember going to a salon in the city, I suspect Baltimore and having to go down steps to enter. I remember being twelve and having it done in a salon. I spent years having it cared for every week. I remember the theme of the black beauty parlor and how much I hated it. For a while my mother found a lovely woman who did hair out of her home. But that was not to last forever.

For a while in college I let it grow. Finally, it became to much and I straightened it again after almost a year. I wish I had left it alone. I had a friend then, a white young male that had little interaction with black people. He assumed my hair would be course like wool. I made him touch it one day when we were walking. He was shocked at how soft and fluffy it was.

But I straightened it again and went through my life defining it as how it would look straight. Long, straight hair. That is all I ever wanted. It was what I never had. It requires work. Weekly salon trips. No walking in the rain. And when I was in my twenties I rejected all of that. I refused to avoid the rain for my hair. I wanted to own my hair.

I started to straighten it myself. That, I considered was ownership.

In a way it was. I did my own hair on my own schedule. It never thrived like it did when I was at the salon. I didn’t have the tools and products to keep it straight and flowing. But, I was tired of salons. I was tired of being teased. When I came home from college my mother took me to one place and they spent the entire time going on about my nappy head and how sensitive I was. I wanted to know why I was paying people money to insult me. I hated the environment. I had nothing to share. It was several hours of torment and by then, I was tired of being the target of vicious tongues and arguing with peoples endless desire to give me curls.

My hair has never thrived under my own care. I can get it looking okay for a few hours. But its never made it past my shoulders before it breaks. I have to keep it back in a bun for work anyway. Eventually, I accepted that long hair was not for me and it was another flaw about myself that I had little control of. In many ways I was thankful that I had given up on my looks long time ago. I’d have driven myself crazy.

But it took my own aging, my mother’s frustrating hair thinning, and an article about black women and their propensity to baldness and hair thinning to make me look at what I was doing. It would take another few months before I gathered the courage to do a simple thing.

I stopped straightening my hair. In that moment I threw away a dream. I would never have the long, straight hair that I desired. In it, I developed another one. Maybe I could grow an amazing curling mane instead. Maybe, because I had abandoned hard core hair processing as a teen and only lightly used straighter every 6-8 weeks, I had not damaged myself beyond repair. Maybe, I could come to like the hair that I had been given.

But, I had never really met that hair.

I remember being very small and my grandmother dragging a brush or comb through my hair. I’d squeal and cry out and she’d scold me for being so tender headed. I remember my babysitter brushing my hair. I remember running from people trying to comb or brush my hair because they so often hurt me. In this, I developed an understanding that I had very bad, nappy, unappealing hair.

But now, as I watch it grow in. I don’t know. If it is dry, it is hard to comb. As a child I am sure it was often dry. Hair care had made many advancements since the 80’s. As I transition from straightened hair into my natural hair, I find that I randomly have dry patches that need to be oiled. If I run a comb through it, it hurts. Once I oil it, it is fine. For you see, my hair is dry not oily.

My natural hair is also thicker. The straightening process is brutal and it strips the outer layer. Hairs are interesting and why it curls seems to depend on the way keratin is deposited over the hair. Straight hair has smooth and even deposits. Curly hair has random, causing the level of curl.

I wash my hair to hydrate it and apply fresh oil. I’ve always found the need to wash ones hair because it gets oily fascinating. I wish my hair got oily. It’d be so much easier to manage. I have the dry hair genetic lottery as well.

All of this means that I am relearning my hair. A few weeks ago, I noticed the hair at the nape of my deck had become longer then it has ever been before.  Its never made it past and inch and it is now the length of my index finger.

I also had to stop brushing it. I gave my brush to my mother. I’ve used a balless pin brush for years because it didn’t catch my hair like ball tipped pin brushes do. Now, I use no brush and stick to a wide tooth comb. Brushes don’t get along with the spiraling curled texture. It will also just encourage the hair to turn into an afro instead of the spirals I am hoping for.

“I don’t brush my hair.” It is an odd thing to say, but true. I also don’t know how I will look in a year or two. How long it will take for me to have a curly mane or an afro of epic proportions.  For now, I pull it back in a bun still and struggle to accept this new look. My hair is no longer neatly slicked back, but softly fluffy. It is still neat but that fluffiness will turn into curls and from there?

Why I Walked Out of Jo-Ann’s Fabric and Craft Store

Aging has been on my mind. Over this summer I’ve developed some clusters of silver hair that leave me pondering my mortality.  With my hair growing our naturally and the base developing an unfamiliar spring, those strands no longer hide under the dark surface. They creep up and visit and remind me that I am thirty-seven.

With age comes many things. One of mine has been my understanding of myself and my history of working with the public. It took me a long time to accept that I did not deserve to be treated poorly by people. I was always that person who would dip their head and accept how other’s treated me. After all, those people were not part of my every day. I didn’t need to get into screaming matches with them or make them respect me.

But, what of culture? What of politeness? Everyone does not always have a good day. Nor do I expect everyone to be my friend. But rudeness? Should it be tolerated?

Last Tuesday, I dressed for work and went to get into my car. As I crouched and slid into my seat, I heard a pop and felt cool air wash across my thigh. I sighed. My work pants always pop their inner seams. I wear men’s pants and they do not agree with my non-man thighs. Mixed with the fact that like many clothing made by uniform companies, no expense was taken, the single row of simple stitches fail me about about six months. This was not the first time, nor will it be the last since we switched to this brand four years ago.

I went inside. There, I switched into another pair of pants and headed back to my car. I again entered my car and again heard a pop. This time I sighed. One more pair of pants left.

The third pair held. With this weekend off after working two weeks in a row, I decided to run some errands. One was to get some thread to fix my pants. I have thread, somewhere. I didn’t feel like finding it. I decided to get a meal from Not Your Average Joe’s and to swing by a Joe-Ann’s that was a bit past it.

I go to this store fairly regularly. I’m not a regular client by any means. I’ve picked up some yarn and thread and fabrics to do things like make my Minmatar Cosplay jacket. This time I found a set of metallic needles and some black thread to put my pants back together. I wandered through the cross stitch and then, mother in tow, headed to check out.

There was one person at the register. Another came to help due to the line that started to grow behind me. I went to the register and I was proud of myself for remember to pull up the Website on my phone for a discount. “Oh you have your phone?” she said to me and takes it from my hand to wave it in front of the scanner. Now, that scanner could come out of its holster and scan my phone in my hand but I decide not to say something. In the back of my mind, I know how unhappy that would have made by husband had we been in the same position. Still, no harm came of it and my total came to six dollars and change after I saved $1.67 with my coupon.

Now,  every store has its own card processing machine. The one at Jo-Ann’s was somewhat old. I swiped my card and then had to slid it into the chip reader. More and more stores at activating their chip readers and I find it is sometimes a spastic dance to figure out how one will pay on any given day.

The touch screen was small. Small enough that I wondered if it was a touch screen and decided to use the Yes and No buttons. After I inserted my card and used said buttons to select the debit option, I typed in my pin. The machine then asked me if the amount was correct. I hit enter.

Nothing happened. “You have to press yes,” she said.

I obey and press yes. Nothing happened.

The cashier spins the machine around and starts to press the yes. She snaps, “You have to do it like it tells you!” and starts to press the machine and makes a big exasperated huff. “You can’t use the buttons!”

For a moment I stood there and blinked. For that moment, I stared at the green enter button that had worked as a yes and my now frozen transaction. “It has to be done right,” the woman continues to mutter. She had taken my card from the machine. I reached across the counter and slid my card from under her hand and picked it up.

“I don’t think I’ll be buying anything here,” I said and left. To my mother I said, “Maybe she was having a bad day. Maybe she doesn’t want to be on a register. There are a hundred reasons why she snapped at me but not a single one where I should tolerate it.”

Six dollars and some inconvenience. For that, I stood up for myself in a simple way that won’t change the world but it will remind me that I value myself.

Selecting Eggs

Today is my only day off for a bit. I picked up all of the extra shifts at work in the place that I work out of. My two co-worker/partners are both on leave. I grabbed the extra shifts because, why not? I rarely work overtime and as that I am moving towards paying off my car in October and a few trips, a bit of extra cash is always nice.

That made today busy. I had to food shop for the dogs. Intuition is out of food. Autumn and Sage were also out of food. Autumn and Sage eat raw. Inty is still eatting kibble until hes a bit older and not growing so quickly. What makes this a shopping trip is that I have to weigh and package all of Autumn and Sage’s food. I buy a month at a time and it takes two or so hours to weigh and pack all of it. That is worth the time to do it at the start. That means grabbing it from the freezer is a simple task the rest of the month.

That meant today was a day of shopping. We were out for several hours and then I spent the rest of the evening at the stove cooking. I had picked up some mixes to make some deserts. I’m proportioning out my meals and including something sweet helps me avoid picking up jump food in the street. That is what led me to realize that we had no milk.

I turns out that I used the rest of the milk the other day. I shrugged and figured I’d make the other mix that did not need milk. However, that needed eggs and I had no eggs. I used the last one weeks ago and because we do not eat eggs regularly, I’d not thought to buy more.

Off to the store I went. Again. It was not a hard task since the store is across the street. I don’t hate grocery shopping. I am often puzzled by those that spout their hatred and loathing for the grocery store. It is full of tasty things, why do we hate it? Yet, hate they do.

Anyway, there I am heading straight to the eggs. I stare at the eggs. There are so many. Brown eggs are more expensive for instance. I’ve moved to organic and free range eggs which are twice as expensive as the processing line eggs. Do I need a dozen? Why are all the organic eggs brown? Brown eggs are not better they are just a different type of chicken. Some make speckled eggs and then there are several types that lay eggs from blue to green to pink. But, brown eggs are healthier because people are stupid about food.

I eyed the eggs and decided to pick a brand on sale. I grabbed it and as I walked away I read the blurb at the top that said, “Vegetarian feed contains no added hormones*, animal fat, or animal by-products.”

I turned around a put it back.

You see, chickens are rather omnivorous. They eat insects. While grubs are not beef, they are full of protein and important to a rich, healthy yoke. I have a problem with feeding things unnatural diets. Cats and dogs get meat. Birds get a omnivorous diet. Cattle should be fed grass. The list goes on and on but chickens are not vegetarians. They do eat a lot of vegetables but they’d happily eat as many insects.

I picked free range eggs instead. They may not be as free range as the name suggests, but hopefully they get more then a vegetarian meal.