Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Focus on Me - pt 4 - Anxiety

   Because I realize I haven't done this for a while, I decided to sit down and do a little bit of self-therapy by writing down what's been going on with me, try to get it out.  I write a diary every day, so you'd think that would be enough, but sometimes a single page in a journal just isn't enough to get those rambling thoughts out to be a relief.
     I think that talking to people would help, but anxiety makes it impossible.  If you've ever had one of those issues that you've talked about over and over again and feel like you're bothering everyone around you by talking about it more than once, you probably have anxiety just like me.  So, it makes it difficult.  I have a couple friends, my husband and my mom and that's just about it.  And feeling like I'm always complaining is a bad feeling.
     So, that's what this blog is for, and I really don't want to sound like a "negative nancy" about it, but that's how things have been going lately.  I'm tired.  I'm exhausted.  My work was pretty good at the beginning of the year because we had plenty of people on staff, but that has dropped off drastically to the point there's maybe a handful every day. 
     They gave me a job to do emails, which was kind of nice for a while, but the busier we got, the more stressed out I got.  Then we started losing people so they expected me to do my job but also do phones, and I realized the other week when I was back on phones permanently, that it was the feeling of helplessness, watching that inbox fill up while I was on the phones that it was causing me the worst anxiety.  We used to be slow enough (or rather we had enough humans to answer phones) that we could bounce between the emails and calls.  Now, it's either straight one or the other with very time to do anything else.
      I was going to start talking to my bosses about this, but then we had to cancel all of the meetings because of how busy we have been, and then they keep asking me to work overtime, and it all compounds.  I don't mind my job, but the fact that we're just so overwhelmed makes me feel that way.

     I kind of miss not having a job, even though I was anxious about that.  But I look around my house every day thinking - I need to get all of this stuff done.  But I don't have the energy to actually do any of it when I'm off of work.  That stresses me out too because my husband makes a mess everywhere he goes and has no sense of urgency to clean it up after himself.  So then I have that on top of me too.
     Thankfully I do have a week scheduled off coming up, and I'd like to go somewhere in order to just get away for a while.  But...we're still in a pandemic.  I just don't know what to do about the stress overall.

     Is this little complaint fest helping any?  Maybe a little bit.  I honestly don't care if anyone reads this but I just want it to be OUT of me.  Even if it's on virtual paper.  I miss people, I miss being around people, but I also am glad I don't have to feel forced to see them either.  I really would like to just leave for a day.  I'd like to just call off work myself and spend some "me" time, but it's been really hard lately because I also have a very strong sense of devotion to my job, even if it is the cause of most of my stress.
      I miss earlier this year when I first started and felt good about everything.  Sigh.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Focus on my Career - pt 8 - Sleepless Night

     I finally reached six months at my new job.  It wasn't celebrated, there wasn't any hoopla, and it was marked only by an email sent out by the people who administer our payroll.  I didn't expect anything really, even though working in a startup small milestones tend to count since there's such high turnover, but things went on as usual.  It's okay, I didn't expect much.
     The winter months went by smoothly, but then things started to roll in a different direction as we went from a team of 20 or so to just a dozen or so.  There was quite a considerable cut in staffing at the beginning of the month, and I spent a sleepless night thinking about how I wasn't part of this one.  Before, when that terrible retail place I worked for decided to make cuts I was almost always on the side that got cut.
     My friend said it's because I have PTSD from my previous job and yes, I think in so many ways I do.  I worry constantly about doing something wrong, making that one mistake that will get me fired, and having my heartbeat out of its chest every time I send off that email.
     At first, my job seemed like a simple call center job, nothing special, help a person get access to their account, explain a bill, or something along those lines.  I knew that I had to verify everyone, but it seemed simple and straight forward.  Then came the quality assurance, which was okay at first until I got back my first results and realized I'd screwed up big time on something so simple and small as one piece of information.  One mark on my record.  I got two more before I could be fired for it.  And each month they go over at least 7 such pieces, so in one month I could screw up and lose my job in an instant.
     It kept me up all night after that first score, and I vowed to do better.  My eyes crossed and I started to freak out about any little thing that didn't quite match, questioning every single email or phone call I took.
     That was before the cuts were made where we lost some people, most likely due to some of those same issues.  Then came another one last week which was a big shock to some of my coworkers.  I just kept plugging along, forever anxious with every email and phone call that I still take, thinking about if I forgot to double-check something or should I trust myself that I would have noticed something wrong?
   
     I finally took a day off for myself.  It's been six months and I've only taken one other day off since the pandemic has made things impossible to go anywhere and everything I had scheduled has been canceled or closed.  But today I wanted a day to sit in the house and not work, not think about my anxiety with sending that next email, and just wanted a day to let everything go.
     Unfortunately, I'm also completely exhausted.  I could barely sleep last night and even though I have all of these plans for myself, I also just barely can get motivated to do any of them.  But maybe that's good?  Maybe that's what I should be doing for myself?  Just relaxing?

     I've also been thinking about my friend who wanted me to work with her originally back in November.  I had gotten a job offer, and I probably could have taken that job, but the one I have now offered perhaps less security, but more money and didn't give me (then) as much anxiety as that one did.  I felt bad.  My friend was disappointed.  I think she thought I let her down, that I abandoned her, and possibly had favored another over her.
     But I saw how happy she was at her new job.  She had a cool new desk, new co-workers who had become her friends, and she had all of these new hobbies she was getting into.  She was posting pictures of her decorations, games she played, and things she was doing.  And her co-workers were starting to comment on her Facebook feed to the point that I know she had added them as friends.
     And me?  I have one friend who I've added on Facebook and that was long before I worked there.  I haven't added anyone else, nor have I made plans with any of them, or tried to reach out in any capacity.  I harken back to that PTSD, worried that at any moment I could lose this job and thus break all contacts. 
      They said when all of those people were fired that we could still "reach out" to them...but I had no way to do that.  I had no contacts with them and thus no ability to say, "hey, how are you doing?"  And that made me sad because my friend has moved on without me and has made all sorts of new friends.
   
     It takes so much for me to open up to new people.  I literally took nearly a decade to make friends with my co-workers at my old job.  And now it feels like I just don't have the ability to reach out at my new job with having to work from home and not being able to get to know people in person.
     I worry about losing the friends I have.  We spent all this time playing D&D together and now it seems things are drifting away even though I've been really trying hard for it not to.  Every time I start to tell a story with a person or a group of people we never seem to finish, and damn it, I really want to finish this one!
     But... it's been over a year now since everything changed, and it's been about three or so months since the pandemic started.  I know we can outlast the closures and the worries about being apart, at least we'll give it our best shot to!  But I also worry about what I need to do to keep everything held together that I've worked so hard at.

     And that's where my sleepless night came from.  That's what ran through my mind over and over again as I tossed and turned.  And hopefully putting this down will help me move past it and relax during the next four days I have off.  I hope.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Glenhaven's Son Enirch - pt. 4 - A New Mission

     Originally intending to use the dynamite themselves, Enirich and Matthew realized that then the band of adventurers showed up in town, maybe it was best to leave it to the experts.  He wasn't very old, and even though he had been trained, he knew that the Drow out in the magically darkened woods were a bit more than he and Matthew and the handful of other trained men in town could handle.  
     He didn't trust the dwarf Garig at first.  The cleric had been part of the adventurer group who had killed his parents almost a year ago, but he'd met the man before he left for Waterfordshire and truth be told had more or less trusted him.  He decided eventually he would talk it over with Garig in private and see whether they'd really slaughtered his parents in cold blood or there was another reason.
     And now that he had arrived with other adventurers, he did wonder if the dwarf had been just a pawn in their scheme.  After all, the tall elven druid seemed to be the leader and she was the one always trying to kill him.  Enirich just shrugged it off and allowed the others to see if they could successfully take down the towers and get the rest of the explosives from the mines.
     It honestly didn't take very long for it to all play out, only within the span of a day or two, and they had felled the first tower and then headed to the second.  They cleared most of the Drow from the woods, and then went to go close off the abandoned mine entrance.  However, Garig returned to town before they would head further.  The new adventurers had discovered that the Drow who fought them had no idea where they were.  In fact, they said they had been kidnapped from somewhere and dropped here, and were only fighting because they thought they had to.
     Bringing the Drow back into town, they joined the rest of the Waterfordshire group, because, in fact, they WERE part of that group, just transported here from journeying South.  The rest of the adventurers decided to delve further into the mine before blowing it up as they wondered if it actually lead to the Underdark at all.
     So Garig stayed behind to help, and Enirich, Tra'Laga and the other townsfolk tried to piece together what was going on...  Caspian, the wizard became more and more distant and eventually after a brief visit, announced he would be leaving town for a time after he made preparations, that he had to talk to someone he knew.  He would be there for about a week.

     It was right around then that Garig's old adventurer group arrived.  Enirich was upset, but he had taken a little bit of time to speak to Garig, and now that it had been nearly a year since the incident, he decided to let it go...at least for now.  His parents had been fooled, but they had also done their share of damage, so he was trying to resolve that in his mind.
     Tra'Laga helped him cool down, her level head really made things better.  But when they all showed up in his house suddenly, it was quite a shock.  The elven girl was still as haughty as ever but the black dragonborn kept her at bay and they did agree to help the other Drow in Waterfordshire.  So, he traveled with them with Tra'Laga's urging and headed back to his home of a couple years.

     Things had changed in the last few months since he had left.  The Mayor had been turned into an undead and had been killed by the General.  With no heirs to speak of, the General took over thinking he would be voted during the spring session.  He had taken the opportunity to roust the Drow from the catacombs, flooding the underground system, and had captured those who tried to escape.
     Enirich's old teacher Marcus, was working to find someone else to go against General Lockborne in the election, but except for himself had not found any suitable candidates.  The city had been ruled by a King not 50 years before, and the Mayor had taken over at a fairly young age without an election (which made him King, but he tried to put on airs that he had set up a Democracy).  Enirich hoped that his teacher might actually try to get elected, but Marcus never really liked politics.
     There were a few other smaller officials who started to look like they were interested in taking over, but they were deathly afraid of Lockborne, and kept quiet.

     With a possible landslide election looming, Enirich worked with Marcus in secret to help the group with Garig to take the few pitiful imprisoned Drow out of town and take them North to get them help.  They started scheming and things seemed to be going along fairly well... but Lockborne had a whole lot more ears and eyes in the town then Marcus or Enirich had imagined.
     The night before they were about to proceed with the operation, the General was on high alert and locked down the bridges, closed down the waterways, and put new guards at the gates.  They had only just managed to have the correct guards at the Northern gate the evening they were going to make the getaway.
     However, Lockborne had caught wind of it and had set a trap.  As Enirich and Marcus finalized their plans to head to the northern gate themselves, Lockborne's men captured them.  They were taken to jail to be questioned.  

     Meanwhile, hell broke lose as the Drow made it out the North gate, but a dragon attacked... The General and his men fought those at the gate making the escape, but there was also a huge earth elemental that broke down the Southern gate.
     Enirich had a feeling he knew who caused this interruption, but didn't say anything, disappointed that he had trusted the group with Garig not to destroy his town.  But, he and Marcus couldn't do anything as they were currently in chains, locked up.
     The elemental plowed through building after building for 45 minutes or so, fires from chimneys lighting a chunk of the city on fire until it just sunk back into the ground and disappeared.

     By then the city was in chaos and word soon spread that a giant ape had killed the General.  Again... it could only have been the work of ONE particular druid.  
     Enirich and Marcus were able to convince the guards who were keeping them that the General had gone crazy and that they needed leadership in order to bring things back to order.  So eventually, albeit reluctantly, the guards let them go and Marcus soon took control of the situation.
     The old wizard who ran the magic school managed to put out the fires and started to help the townsfolk pick up the pieces within the town.  Enirich fell into his old habits with his friends from school and they all started working together to get things back together again.

     He did get word briefly from Garig at one point that the Drow had escaped and they were making their way north.  He sent word again from Tra'Laga, wondering if he was okay and if she should come down to meet him, but Enirich figured it would be maybe another month and then he would join her once again.
     Also, he didn't want to face those adventurers, and the longer he stayed away from Glenhaven, the better his chances were they'd be gone by the time he arrived.

     Enirich settled into life in Waterfordshire in his old apartment again.  Trade resumed in the town again, the catacombs were allowed to be closed off again, although now there were no Drow to take up residence again, they did find what was left of the black market, flooded and worthless.
     Marcus managed to convince a few of the government officials to set up, if not an election, something like a cabinet in order to bring order to the chaos that had befallen the city over the past year or so.  He and the other Bronze Stars started an effort to bring some sort of peace back to Waterfordshire.
     
     It had only been about a week when word came from Glenhaven that they were planning on taking the Drow to a city in the North called "Northwynd".  Tra'Laga was planning to go with her brother X'Ranth, and wanted him to come with them.  He said there was still work to do, which was true, but also because he wasn't sure of himself anymore.  He liked the Drow woman, but she... he wasn't sure he wanted to move hundreds of miles away from where he grew up either.  His friends were here.  So he kept telling her he'd catch up, but wasn't quite sure if he actually would.

     Then, something unusual happened.  The Tritons arrived.

     Enirich had heard of these creatures in the past, they were what old fisherman called "Merfolk".  According to Marcus, they would typically arrive in town once or twice a year, passing their way through town with items to trade, and then would go on to other port cities.  The Tritons looked almost as much like fish as like man, but they spoke common with ease and he was appointed to the welcome committee since he had become Marcus's Lieutenant in the last week or so (although unofficially he supposed).
     The Tritons had a ship, although it looked like...well, it could go completely under the water, so a submarine?  But it was long and sleek, and when it breached the water that afternoon, it was the most foreign thing he had ever seen.  A male and female stepped out onto the shore, skin glistening in the daylight, and they had weapons at their waists, and looked incredibly strong.
  
     "I am Lorelei, High Guard of the Emerald Guard of the Triton, and this is Delnis, Trade Chairsman of the Ruby Pearl, our Ship behind us.  We wish to trade wares."  Lorelei stood about as tall as Enirich, her skin a light blue that darkened at the fingers and toes (all of which he could see were webbed) and teal hair.  Her build was muscular, probably making her an excellent swimmer and a fast fighter both on land and in the ocean.  Her partner had more of a silver coloration to his skin, and as he moved Enirich could see that they were both covered in fine scales.  They breathed air but also had gills.
    Enirich stepped forward, "I am Enirich, Lieutenant of the Bronze Stars here, we welcome you to Waterfordshire.  I do have some unfortunate news however, our city just saw a large disturbance recently, and many of our merchants have fled town temporarily."  He bowed slightly, "We will do our best to try to offer you what we can but we are hurting."
    Lorelei stepped forward, "It wasn't the Water Elemental again, was it?"
    Slightly shocked at her response, Enirich shook his head, "No, Earth Elemental actually... what's this about a Water Elemental...?"  He started to think back to his time in Waterfordshire over the past few years but he hadn't ventured very close to the shore or talked to the sailors or fisherman, although he had heard tales told about creatures in the ocean.
    Looking a bit relieved, Lorelei tuned to look at Delnis, "We had fought back a Water Elemental near your shores about a year ago and took it back to the Plane of Water.  We're not sure where it came from, but it was quite strong and almost overtook a ship before it was pushed back by some warriors on board the ship.  But this Elemental...you are sure you do not have anything you can trade?"
     Shaking his head, "We are happy to have you here and we will do what we can, but we just recently lost our Mayor, and now our General, and the government is just trying to rebuild.  The ones we think caused the Elemental's rampage headed north and we're discussing whether or not to send someone up there... and now that you mention a Water Elemental a year ago..."  He drifted off, could that Druid have caused even more havoc then he had originally thought?
     "You say someone summoned the Elemental?"
     Enirich merely nodded.  "A fairly powerful Druid.  She and her party headed north a little over a week ago, but they were in this town about the time you mentioned the Water Elemental showed up."
     "I would... like to see this druid you speak of and question her.  One should not be taking creatures from their natural planes and just plopping them here and there to create havoc."  Lorelei crossed her arms over her ample chest.  "You will take me there and Delnis and the others will help you rebuild the city so we may finish our trade before we head West."
     "I...um...well, I wasn't going there myself..." Enirich sputtered.  The very muscular arms of Lorelei made him nervous.  The more he looked at her, the more he was fairly sure she could fold him in half if she wanted to.  "But, I suppose maybe I could arrange..."
    The triton shook her head, "No, you will do.  You can take me there.  Make arrangements, we will start off tomorrow morning."  She turned, speaking in some other language to the other triton and they headed back to the ship.

     Enirich stood in an opened mouth confusion.  What just happened?!  He had just decided he wasn't going to head North again, would let Tra'Laga go ahead to Northwynd and never see her again...and now he was going to show up with a mermaid trailing behind him...?
     He started to wonder if he could just escape at night and maybe hide out for awhile.  He turned, thinking he'd start packing when the fish woman turned, "Oh no... I need you to help me pack, come with me."  And she grabbed him by the arm, hauling Enirich behind him to the ship.

    And thus, Enirich's new mission had begun....whether he liked it or not.

Friday, May 22, 2020

How I'm Dealing with the Pandemic

     So, let's jump back in time to a year ago.  I walked out of my old job, learning to take on life one step at a time with no future ahead of me.  I knew that I wanted to work in customer service, I sorta wanted to move into a field I could be creative, I was happy to find just about any job at all where maybe I could settle into a full-time position that allowed me to occasionally work from home.  And I started my job hunt, but as the summer months wore on with only a bite or two, I stepped back from all of that.
     I got sick off and on from the stress and taught my body how to relax.  I was still anxious, still depressed, but I was being forced to stay home and not work myself to the bone as I had in retail.  I set up my office to better serve my painting needs, I opened an online store that I've (quite honestly) lost interest in now for the most part, but only because I feel like I wasn't hitting a niche that needed to be filled.  And all of my craft shows have been canceled (but more on that later).
     I spent my days working from my home more or less alone, but I worked and I made sure that I had some kind of routine.  It was a "job", albeit a fun one where I could watch YouTube videos and paint all day long but it was work.
     Then I found an actual job that completely sucked, and thankfully I got out of that soon enough and found my new job around the holidays which had the option to work from home once I got comfortable with it.  But I never felt like I needed to and I worried about my cats bugging me while on phone calls, so I didn't push to work from home.  In fact, until I was forced to in March, I'd never prepared to work from home at all.

     Then the pandemic hit, or rather the "Unpleasantness" as one of my favorite YouTubers calls it.

     Suddenly I find myself back at this desk where I'd made my creative space.  I lost most of my desk to a laptop and a second monitor, but overall, it's very similar to the schedule I kept when I didn't have a job.  Get up, get on my desk, do my work, wait until dinner, and then do other things until bed and starting over again.
     When I didn't have a job, I didn't leave the house because doing so meant spending money. Money was hard to come by when I wasn't working, and even with the normal bills I had and no extras I slowly saw my checking account disappear month after month.
     
      So for the few months, we weren't allowed to go out, I did pretty much what I did before.  Stayed home, maybe went for the occasional walk, haven't gone crazy spending money online because the shopping bug for me has almost completely gone away.  I kinda wish sometimes I could just get rid of a lot of the things I've gathered up over the years and when I do think about spending money I think about all the other crap I have laying around here.
     Mind you, I did finally splurge on a couple things only because I wanted to feel...I dunno, normal, again?

     Anyway, so as far as things go, my life hasn't changed too much...yet.  But you see, there are all of these other things that have really changed that I have tried to ignore.  All of the canceled events.  I haven't been able to go anywhere because things have been closed down.  Then I hurt my foot a couple of weeks ago and walking has been sporadic so I don't hurt it much more than I already have... so my one "free" outing was put on hold for a while, sadly.
     I'm mostly rambling here if you haven't noticed, so if you're keeping up with this, kudos to you!

     So now things are opening again.  I made my first purchase on Amazon yesterday in months.  I went to a store last weekend and shopped (albeit with a mask).  I'm still working from home but this last week has been so nice because I've been able to stay off the phone and just concentrate on emails for folks as we tested something so that's pretty awesome too.  I've been painting again so that's awesome too.
     But... I don't think I want to go out to restaurants.  I'm afraid of going to the mall to see how many stores won't reopen (or only for business closing sales).  I don't have a need for anything in my life besides food, mind you, and grocery stores are tolerable still.  But I worry about people getting sick and getting ME sick and I don't feel like shopping is worth it anymore.
     I don't mind wearing masks and social distancing, that's fine.  I didn't like being close to others anyway so it's not all that different!  But I still worry about getting close to people even if I WANT to be close to people.  But I don't think we've gotten to a point where it will all turn out okay yet either.  It's too soon...things returning to normal... I guess I just don't want to face this new "normal" yet.

     And the fact that people just don't seem to want to follow the rules just aggravates me.  But, whatever, do what you do and I'll do what I do, but I'll probably stay home as I do it.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Pandemic #2 - Video Conferencing Woes

     I just wanted to get something off my chest.  So, I was out a job for six months, found a terrible one for a few months, tried again at a few places and secured a job where I could possibly work from home if needed, which was very fortuitous because here we are in the Corona Virus Pandemic and those places that are still open that aren't front line are working from home.  Thankfully, that includes yours truly, and I've been here for over a month now.  I almost feel like I've been working at home longer then I did in the office, although it'll be another month or so before that really happens.
      But in the meantime, things got set up to do video meetings at least once a day, if not three times a day, depending on how many manager one on ones and over conferencing I have to sit through.  It's bad enough that our jobs went from having a review once a week where no one really reviewed anything, to once a month where they reviewed one thing, to suddenly they're critiquing a bunch of things that I do, and I've failed at one already so now I'm stuck at home, anxious about the Pandemic and going outside...but also freaking the heck out about my reviews.  I feel like any moment I'm going to find myself in a conference call where they're going to say, "bring in your electronics, go get your stuff off your desk, you're done."
     Most likely I'm panicking a bit more than I should, but when the world is going to pot, your husband is complaining his job has slowed down so much everyone is fighting for work too, and one of you have to foot the bill at least to keep our lives the way they are...it's awfully stressful.

     And that's not even what I really came here to complain about!  My actual complaint is that I have one gal who hired in about week before me who has decided to become my direct competitor.  She started to have battles with who would get more phone calls in a day, and it wasn't really all that bad when we were in the office because we didn't really sit near one another and except for once a day I didn't even have to say anything to her.
     Now, because we're on the same "stand up meeting" every afternoon I have to listen to her EVERY DAY.  I didn't really like her all that much before, although the only thing I had to base that on was that she seemed kind of dumb.  I think she was feeling sorry for herself for having a baby out of wedlock and hadn't even wanted a kid.  She murmured that once during her first week when I said I didn't have kids which is probably the reason I looked younger then I am.  But from that day on, I think she turned it around to say she loved her baby sooo much and she wants another someday, and hopefully soon... trying to be my exact opposite it felt like.
      As I mentioned, after that point I really didn't have to talk to her too much but now she's on the video call and my coworkers ask about said baby over and over again.  The calls turn into long, drawn out conversations about her and the kid.  I mean, I understand most women are like that, but it's awkward and annoying to me.  I've never wanted children so when we talk about pets or cats instead I'm having a much better time since it's something I can relate to.
      Recently she's also started to show how much of a Trump supporter she is as well.  So, not only is she a breeder, she's a MAGA (sorry, it's probably rude terminology but I don't approve) and it's so frustrating because I don't really want to be anywhere near her now, either online or in the office.  I feel like she's going to become unbearable when she finally gets back into the office.

     So, that's what I've been grumbling about.  I like my job in essence, but it's become a lot lately for me.  I don't even know what to do but ignore her.  I miss when I didn't have someone who seems to be openly competing with me at every step of the way.  I just want to do my job as best I can and work my way up as I have in all of my other jobs, and I don't know how to push for that, but I'm worried that she's attempting to do that too and I don't want to compete with her... I just don't know how much I can do while I'm stuck at home.


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Pandemic and Working from Home

     I keep thinking to myself that I need to document this time, especially since it's one that will most likely show up in all of the history books.  How we deal with a virus that has reached nearly every corner of the world (or at least the ones easily connected by airlines), it's amazing what can happen in just a few short months.
     I know it's a terrible thing that so many people are dying.  I know that so many more will still die before this whole thing is over.  People are panicking, buying up everything they can in case they are trapped inside for weeks or even months.  I had thought about that sort of thing in the back of my mind when it first started showing up in other parts of the world, although like many of the other pandemics that have occurred, the USA has been largely spared.
     Of course, no one thought it would reach as far as it did, and many of us were just thinking from time to time, what would we do?  But I don't think any of us took it seriously (except some random preppers anyway!)
     As for me, if anyone actually reads this, I was somewhat taking it seriously.  I've always tried to be prepared for a cold and the eventual quarantine inside of my home.  Heck, after I lost my job just one month shy of a year ago, I self-quarantined.  I didn't have money coming in and I got one bad cold after another.  Before long I'd dropped back on nearly all of my spending and had started a routine for myself.

     So, in a way, last year's joblessness was a preparation for this.

     One day I cleaned up my desk, made enough room to work on painting and posting items on my website (which I need to work on again during this time probably) and then scheduled a routine.  Get up, have breakfast, do a few chores, then go to "work" for about four or so hours a day, painting, doing other things and just overall making sure to keep "working".
     I also suffered from a lot of depression, a lot of anxiety and had a lot of moments of loneliness even when I knew I had people in my life who could come over and I could talk to.  But I did make it, and I pushed through.

     Now I'm working from home, quarantined from work until the end of March.  I set up my desk much like I did before (although now I have two computers, so painting is on hold for the time being).  But it's a lot like it was before.  Take a break from time to time, get lunch, read, and keep an eye on the queue and answering calls.
      A week ago they started murmurs about whether we would have to work from home.  I'd already started hearing talk about it so I started buying things for it in preparation.  Then they mentioned closing down schools...and by Friday we knew we'd have to set up to work.
     The weekend went by after that and the stores emptied out, people were emptying them out.  Toilet paper and towels were gone, food was gone, milk, eggs, bread and meats were gone.  Then the restaurants started shutting down all but take out and delivery.  People who worked for those restaurants got laid off.  Other stores started shutting down, not allowed to keep pushing forward, then the Governor started shutting down libraries, waterparks, museums, and anywhere else that a bunch of people could go to.  He stopped us from voting yesterday, pushing it off until June.
     A few smaller stores plug along, still open, not knowing what else to do.  People who vend at conventions are having online sales in hopes they can make ends meet.  Everything is shut down and the gas is cheap and the roads are empty.
   
     And even though, as I said, I know this is a terrible thing to be certain, it's also rather good in some ways.

     Pollution has gone waaaaay down.  Critters are returning to areas that have been chased out so long ago that people are surprised to see them there.  People are starting to do things for one another.  The government is actually thinking about doing stuff for the people instead of the businesses.  It's actually rather amazing.

     And yet, we still have to deal with being stuck inside our homes.  We have to worry about catching and spreading the virus.  I still worry about my Mom a whole lot because I'm not sure she's taking it very seriously since she doesn't like the news and has never been very up on world events.
     But, little bit by little bit, I think this might be a blessing for our planet.  I know, it's terrible who this virus might affect by the end, and sure, I could definitely be one of them by the time this is all over.

     I think, though, that I'm prepared.  Mentally I've always thought that I don't want to contribute to the world going up in flames.  I'd much rather not be part of the problem but the solution, even if I'm not entirely sure how I could be part of it.

     So, as I work from home waiting for that next phone call or that next email from someone who I more worried about things that aren't the worldwide pandemic, I'll sit here and be glad that the world is still moving on without us.  The trees are still getting ready to bloom, the rains are coming to make the grass green again, and the birds and other animals are enjoying their time outside where they haven't been able to be in decades.  And I'm actually okay with that.
     And if things get worse before they get better, then I'll continue keeping on because even with all of this because panicking never helped anyone.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Focus on Me - pt. 3 - Low Self-Esteem

     Maybe this entry would be better fit as a "mental health" entry as opposed to a focus on me...but then again I kind of just want to whine for a few minutes while I'm waiting on this book to print out for my brother.  What he doesn't get is that yes, I found the PDF of this out of print book he wanted, but no...it's NOT easy to print out, not when my printer keeps calling for more toner (which it doesn't need) and also just decides to fall asleep halfway through because it doesn't feel like it or something?
   
     But that's not what I'm here to complain about, what I am whining about is how things are going at my job.  Training was sort of rough because there was a lot of information to focus on, but after a few weeks of stressing out about it I'm slowly growing accustomed to the crazy stuff.  Then they gave me an opportunity to change time periods and I didn't realize they were limiting this time period to only two people.  That's fine, but I barely sit near that person, and when they re-arranged our seats I'm almost completely alone and feel little to no teamwork now.
     Everyone keeps saying how I'm rocking the calls... Well, I have no distractions, no one to talk to, and have no need to do anything but take calls.  Of course, I'm going to take more.  None of my other teammates barely say a word to me and I feel somewhat like I'd abandoned them to go to a different time so I feel bad about that and don't even really bother.
     Then there's the fact that I've started to notice some of the people who aren't doing as well as me keep getting to focus on other projects.  They're even getting time set aside to work...on what, I have no idea.  No one tells me.  I was starting to look forward to having a project myself but come to find out it's only on a quarterly basis I guess...?  Everyone around me leaves for hours at a time, but because I'm seated near a bunch of supervisors I also feel like maybe I've been singled out...but I'm afraid to read my books when I'm bored too because I'm worried about what they think.

So I've been just a huge bundle of nerves lately.

Focus on My Career - pt. 7 - Anxiety and Job Offers

     Anxiety can be a real bitch.  You don't know when it's going to hit you or for what reason.  I know I've actually suffered from it for a very long time but never had a name to it.  Does that make it better maybe?  I'm not sure.  I'm not sure if addressing it head-on or letting it run its course is the better option.  I've read a little bit recently about facing it and dealing with it as it hits you so that you can remind yourself that whatever that immediate danger your body and brain are trying to warn you about, most of the time it's not actual danger at all.
     I think the earliest attack came around fifth or sixth grade, so I was probably 8-10, it was winter time and we were all bundled up at recess (because back then they still sent us out in the cold and snow!) and I remember wanting to avoid everyone, so went out into the middle of the field, plopped myself down, huddled with my hood over my head and stared at the snow.  Or was it actually summer, and I was looking at flowers?  I honestly don't recall for sure, but I remember not wanting to deal with anyone.  It took a teacher coming over to me to haul me to my feet and take me back inside.
     Spending a lot of time in the secretary's office, with a "stomach ache" was another favorite pastime.
     Another was being JUST stubborn enough that I wasn't allowed to go out to recess and stuck in the library during lunchtime.  Just me and the librarian, browsing books and looking outside and just being happy.
     After researching anxiety in children over the years I can definitely see myself in almost all of the different clues that are now accepted as anxiety.  But no one knew what that was, I was made fun of, I was more sensitive to all of that, I clung to adults who could give me solid answers and didn't judge, didn't give me trouble, and in this age, they would have gotten me into counseling.  Not as if I didn't try to do it myself, but I was only allowed to go about once a month, and after elementary school, there wasn't anyone to go too.

   

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Focus on Me - pt. 2 - End of 2019

     The year is drawing to a close and there are so many things going through my head right now.  At the beginning of 2019, I was the first mate of a sinking ship.  My boss hated me and I was just miserably getting by, taking medication for the anxiety, stress, and depression that SHE had caused.  I was holding with it, going down with that ship...  Until my "captain" literally threw me out of the ship.
      I rather liked that metaphor.  I saw this as a sinking ship, all of the crew were desperately attempting to follow the Captain's orders, but as First Mate, I saw the bigger issues, the giant gaping holes in the bow, and instead of getting the sails ready and hoisting the anchor, I wanted to stop the water from getting in.  But the Captain thought I wasn't listening to her orders as she told me to swab the decks and fix the nets... or something stupid along those lines.  She wanted me out of HER way and didn't bother to see what work I was doing to help.
      So, instead of just seeing my point of view or even seeing the things I wanted to do as relevant, she literally set up a plank...then made me walk it...then dumped me overboard.

     I swam in that rough ocean for a long time.  Miserable and wet as my crew tossed me ropes and well-wishes (they tried their best, I have no doubt they would have dragged me back if they thought it would help).
     A day or so later one of them jumped ship after me.  She knew what she was doing and had a little dingy (she is a super talented artist, I should compare her to having an actual escape boat). 
     I continued to swim, looking around for other ships, an island, anything I could.  All the while I would hear about the ship as it continued to sink, or just barely float.  The crew was managing somehow and I heard about it across the sea as I paddled and looked for a way out.
     
     And then one day I found another ship.  It was also barely holding together, but it was something and they all welcomed me on board.  But then I realized they also had a Captain that wasn't doing a good job - nope!  This one stayed in her cabin and shouted orders, didn't want help and didn't want to actually leave her cabin to see what was going on outside on her ship.
     I've never wanted to quit a job that quickly before.  I willfully jumped off that ship!  I swam as hard as I could so they couldn't come back to get me and I realized I was happier in the ocean then attempting to do something for that ship that was never going to happen.

     Now I think I have found a proper ship.  And I hope they're heading to a nice sturdy island where I can finally set my feet on solid ground again.  I worry about it, of course, as I've only been on this ship for a few weeks.  But the Captain is out on the decks on a regular basis, he has multiple first mates, everyone has a job to do on the ship and everyone talks to one another and helps one another.
     I have a very simple, but also very convoluted job on this ship.  I guess the best comparison would be a cartographer.  I had no idea what I was doing, but I was shoved into a small area, showed all of the maps, compasses, and drawing instruments, and then told that at any moment someone might run in and tell me where they wanted to go or where something was, and by the way, you have to also learn how to read the stars too because we're in the middle of the sea.
      Sure, the job at its heart is reading maps to people.  But it's so much more complicated than that because of all of the different factors that are involved.  I had a little over a week of training and then I was left in the room alone with the map and the people who were supposed to stand over me and guide me were too busy with their own jobs.... so yeah, sometimes I feel a bit left out to dry.  But at the same time I've caught on to most of it so perhaps I tell someone East when I mean West, but my anxiety comes from worrying I'm stuck doing this one job, even though it's important, if I stay in this one place I'll never learn how to raise a sail or swab a deck or drive the ship.

      That's a whole lot of metaphors for a call center job.  Hahaha.  I was told that this wasn't a call center, it's less than two dozen people, and everything is moving and shuffling.  People are great to me, and everyone attempts to help me, but I think I've caught on faster than some people, I just need the speed.  Thankfully everyone said it's fine, the speed will come in time, and I can already tell that they're right, but I've always excelled in jobs I've been given over the years, so being patient is difficult for me.
     Especially when all of my other jobs were a frenzy of activity.  This job is me, sitting at a desk, answering phone calls and emails all day, and in between times just staring at my phone (I need to bring books) but when things get ramped up for the year it'll just be answering phones and after just a few days of doing it on my own, I realize I'm not sure my mind will be able to handle the sheer boredom of that...
     At least with tedious chores like folding paper or ringing registers or framing pictures, I got to do something with my hands.  I worry about myself in this job even though it pays so damn well.

      So, as I mentioned, at the beginning of the year I was riding a sinking boat.  Now I'm riding in a boat that keeps growing and moving and changing and I'm blown away by how quickly I've started to get used to that world even though my brain is still anxious over it.

     What will 2020 bring?  I have a week left and my first paycheck coming in a few days.  I have a comfortable home, a loving husband, and I know that everything in my life has changed so much.  Maybe because of all of the trouble I've gone through, I worry about myself thinking everything is too good to be true now.  I can't relax.  But I want to.

     I thought by getting out of my old job that I'd be able to be happy again.  I'd be able to enjoy everything again.  But Halloween came and went in a frenzy.  And now Christmas is here and I don't feel the way I used to.  Mind you we're home alone this year because my Mom is sick.  But it's also super warm outside and we took a walk and I hung around outside with my cat for a while, wearing a short-sleeve shirt.  So, it's weird.
     I didn't go shopping at the stores for a bunch of stuff.  I didn't bring anything but a couple of new Hallmark ornaments home.  I didn't drive around looking at Christmas lights.  I didn't get out of the house much.  I'm looking at my life a whole lot differently than I used to.  I don't want a bunch of things.

     I think I need to learn how to live again.  And also enjoy living.

Maybe that's my real New Year's Resolution - look for joy.  Find the island in this ocean.


Friday, November 22, 2019

Focus on my Career - pt. 6 - More Interviews

    It's been a busy week since I quit my job.

    I don't regret getting out of that other situation.  In fact, I'm happier again.  I've been writing more, painting more, cleaning more, and reading more.  I've been planning things again and baking again.  Things that were a chore before are fun again.  And it's only been a week since I got out of that situation. 
     If you've been reading any amount of these (which, according to hits, there's only been one or two, and most likely someone just dropping by to spam my comments) you'd know that I have been having a bunch of rollercoaster emotions over the past eight months.  I started with anger at losing my job of 17 or so years, then sadness, depression, then a sense of relief and excitement and eventually back into the pits of despair and feeling less than independent.  It's nice to know that I have someone I can depend on, but the guilt of that, even after I try to remind myself that he had gone through something similar when we'd just met.  But he never had to depend on me, so I feel like I shouldn't force him to go through the same thing.
     So, the night before I quit I fixed up my resume and submitted it to a few places that I said I was going to back in October, over a month ago.  I should have just cut and run with that previous job the moment I got there, but I was trying to stick it out because they say you have better chances of getting a new job when you already have one.  I stuck it out much longer then I should have because I was getting miserable a whole lot faster then I had at any of my previous jobs.

     I had applied to both of these places before.  The first one I didn't bother to announce that fact because I had been denied twice already.  I understand the reasoning now, but was pretty crushed then, especially since no one bothered to say "hey, you're not good for this position but we think you'd be good for this one...apply for it instead."  I think if I was a person hiring for a company I'd be more encouraging.  But I guess I'm different than most people.
     The other job I had also applied for, but they were only hiring three people at the time, so I didn't get it.  So when I applied for that one again I said so and said I saw they were hiring again so I'd try again. 
     Over the course of the next few days, I had two phone interviews set up for Tuesday of this week.  Surprisingly they both went over just fine and before I knew it I had two in-person interviews set up, one for each place.

     The interviews began yesterday, and I drove up to the place that I had gotten a phone interview before but hadn't gotten any further.  The building itself was so intimidating.  People were coming and going out of there so regularly that it was making me nervous.  How many people work here?  A whole lot, that's what.  I walked past the first office, did a turn, then went back and checked in, thinking someone would come to collect me right away.  A few other people left with their interviewers and then I was collected with another fellow and they dropped him off and then dropped me off back on the first floor, although I really don't think it was worth me walking around with them.  I sat down in front of two people who tag-teamed me an interview the talk went on for half an hour.  It wasn't bad, but by the time I left there, I wasn't excited.
      The next interview is the following Tuesday.  I'll have to write about it later once it's happened, but I've had an in-person interview with this company before.  I don't think it went very well, but it was only the second live interview I'd had in over 10-13 years.  They were conducting this particular type of interview only for the first time, so we were all new and it just didn't come through as well as it could have.  I've been a bit salty about this for a while, but the fact that they're giving me another chance means that I can do better this time.

     And I think I'd decided which job I would like the most IF I get either job.  I'd like to be given the possibility at both of them, but now that I have been within both environments at least briefly, one is definitely more comfortable for me than the other.  But I can't have a final decision until I've been offered at least one of them.
     The problem is if I'm offered the one that starts in January, I hope I'll be offered the other in the meantime so I can choose that one instead.

     Now it just becomes a waiting and planning game.  Trying to 'ace' the second interview in order to get that one.  I want to get started on my new life. I want to get started learning the ins and outs of this other world.  I'm a bit perplexed why one bothers me more than the other.  In essence, they're both call centers, so why is one more exciting than the other?

     Well, if all else fails, I can move on to something else.  I'm a bit ashamed that I don't have a job during the holiday season so I'm feeling a bit sad that I wasn't further along by now.  But, on the other hand, I can't spend my life being miserable either.  I need to find something I'm HAPPY in.  And how can an artistic person be happy at a call center?  They literally asked me that at the interview yesterday...and I said: "oh no worry, I get my creativity out at home."  But...is that really true?  I started realizing that maybe it wasn't.  Maybe I lied.  Would decorating my desk at work be a good enough creative outlet?  Or will I be miserable?
     I wish I could just work on my online business and make that a career.  I haven't found anything even in my personal life that I could just sit and do on a daily basis and not get bored of it.  So I've put myself into a lot of different things.  So how would working in a place where all I did was take phone calls all day long be satisfying?

     So...we'll see.  One more interview to go.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Focus on Me - pt. 1 - Change of Plans

     There's a lot to unload here so I hope you'll be patient with me.  If you're reading this, then kudos to you, and good luck getting through it!

     At the beginning of October, I had the opportunity to get a job again.  There were so many red flags to this though.  First off, I'd applied to this job months before and had forgotten mostly about it because they closed the job listing and hadn't responded to me.  Then I get a poorly written email wanting me to come in after hearing my passion for art restoration.  This was a job with a listing that was for art restoration, digital restoration, needing an art degree, and even though I didn't have an art degree I'd been around art for years and wrote this letter detailing how excited I was to learn the craft.
     I thought it was a craft.  I went in with these super high expectations and my interview was the general manager talking about her life, her ambitions and barely asked me about me.  I should have just said I'll think about it and left.  But I'd been searching for a job for six months and this was the first decent bite I'd received in a while.  So I took it, started my job the next week, and immediately regretted the decision.
     Nothing was organized, nothing was clear to what I should be doing and no one was informed about what my job actually entailed.  By the end of the week, I was being sent out on jobs to talk to people, driving in a large truck for hours at a time to all corners of Ohio and even down into Kentucky.  I wasn't told that this was part of the job, and at first, I thought it would be a once-weekly thing, for jobs that would be high-end art where they didn't know how to talk to these customers.  I thought, okay, I can handle this.
     But then it started to be just basic jobs, go by myself for hours and hours, trudging through these poor people's homes that had burned or had small fires and pulling artwork out, packaging it up and then driving hours again.  This was not in the job description.  Then it became twice a week, and I thought maybe I could handle it, but I started working 9, 10, even 12 hour days.
     My allergies started acting up because of these places, the smoke, the soot, the dust, the smell.  I'd come home and take a shower, change clothes and take allergy meds, hoping not to get sick.  I had a few fevers and then there were the chemicals we used when we were actually cleaning some of these things.  I enjoyed the few hours a week of doing that work, but I was sure it wasn't good for me.
     I trudged on because the others were trudging on.  But I was starting to get those anxiety attacks on the way into work again.  I didn't want to go.  I'd wake up and want to call in sick.  I didn't, but then I started realizing that my co-workers were ALL suffering from the same thing and they were starting to call off.  That left ME doing all of THEIR work.
     And none of this work was what was on the job description!  I was doing pack-outs and driving big box trucks (a skill I didn't know I had until a week ago, and I haven't tried backing them up yet but I could drive straight pretty well.)  But that wasn't what I was told the job was.
     Everyone who worked there was miserable.  The general manager spent 60-80 hours a week and kept saying 'I can't imagine not being here for everyone all the time.' I sat next to her briefly and I just squirmed and felt uncomfortable.  I wanted to be out of there, I realized that no one was happy, and even though most of them were there because they needed the hours, I didn't want the hours I was getting... in fact, I was being forced to work these hours suddenly and if I had been given full-time I'm not sure I would have lasted so long to begin with.

     So after getting through a 12-hour day, getting home over 13 hours after I'd left home that morning, listening to yet another co-worker complain about where we were working (and I had never heard a positive thing about this place in all of these weeks) I was done.  I went home and told my husband I was quitting the next day.
     Now, maybe if I had been able to make a final delivery, seen the happy looks on someone's face once their items were all back to new again and happy...maybe it would have been bearable.  But I never got to do those runs, never got to see anyone pleased.
     No, I got to be called a 'douche' by another pack-out company two days ago.  I pulled the Transit into the driveway of this nice little old lady's house and asked the people inside where she was.  "Don't know, she left ten minutes ago.  Who are you?"  I'm the art person.  I've come for the art.  The what?  I pointed at the paintings, those.  Oh.  The group of five women all sorta looked annoyed that I was invading their space.
     I finally met the homeowner and went upstairs to work out of the way of these other women.  I started to over-hear them complaining about my truck being in the way, that they wanted to go to lunch.  I finally spoke up and said, let me know and I can move to let you out.  So they finally did and I moved my vehicle into the driveway where I could more easily pack up.  But then they got back and were eating, no one said anything about me moving.  I kept working on the main floor now, they knew where I was.  I took some paintings out and I hear over the last remaining vehicle in the driveway on speaker "That douche won't move her truck.  She's blocking the whole drive and we can't get in again."  There was more but by that time I was so surprised that she would be talking on the SPEAKER where I could hear her clearly OUTSIDE of the truck... I hear, "Oh she's outside finally" (I'd been on the first floor in plain sight of everyone while they were eating) and the lady comes out, "Are you going to move?"
     "Sure, I was just getting wrapped up," I said, then as she glared at me and another truck pulled in saying "Because we can't park on the lawn" and then glaring at me from the truck, I finally stopped and said, "And by the way I can HEAR EVERYTHING YOU ARE SAYING."  And I walked in and took my time packing up the rest of everything before moving out of the drive.
     There's nothing like being glared at for doing my job and never being spoken to but behind my back.  The owner said she was next door, so I pulled into that driveway (where I'm sure the other workers could have pulled in this whole time) and went in to talk to her.  The lady was as sweet as could be and her neighbor had given her the run of the house while her house was being worked on.  I felt bad that such disagreeable people were in her house pawing through her things.  I just left.  I had more things I could have packed up and I found out later that the other guy who had come to get the electronics picked up the rest and I was to check all of those things in...

     The thing you have to understand was this job is a number of things.  Dealing with the multiple insurance companies, pack-out companies, cleaning and renovation places, and the poor homeowner who is just trying to get their house back to normal.  The place might have had a small fire that smoked up the entire place and now everything smells.  Putting out the fire might have caused water damage which, if not taken care of properly, might turn into mold and mildew.  The house is covered in soot and water, drywall, insulation, and then there are all of these people who come in to take it all out to clear the house out and start over.
     Basically, the job they gave me was to drive wherever, pack up anything art related, bring it back to catalog it, and then when the insurance companies gave the go-ahead, we would clean it, pack it up, and send it back again.  The houses were filled with soot, dust, insulation, dry-wall and who knows what else and all I was given was a paper face mask and some rubber gloves.
     I came home smelling of smoke, and not just from the job site but from every single employee who smoked cigarettes at every free moment.  My allergies from all of these things were acting up every single day and on Friday when I would be home, I'd just sit around feeling miserable all day.

     After a long, sleepless night, my throat hurting, my sinuses draining, nose running, no sleep and just plain exhausted after a 12-hour day, I got up and went to work.  I took all of the shirts they gave me in a bag, wrote up a couple of letters, and set it on the pile of paperwork with the key on the pile in the GM's office and just left.
     They'd recently cut a bunch of hours but were saying I'd still get all the hours.  Oh, and we'll get you a raise once we get going too... I think it was all this matter of "don't leave us, we have no idea what we're doing."  And I'm thinking this whole time that I should have been trained.  I should have gotten to watch videos on how to do things.  I should have been getting jobs from museums and art centers and spending time working on items in the office.
     I knew if I spent any time telling them I was leaving rather then this method, I'd be guilted into staying...we'll give you anything...  No, well, here's the thing, you got rid of two people who had been working here for over a year, not the person who was here for a month.  You gave me all of their jobs to do.  This was not in the description.  This place is a mess and I don't see any changes happening any time soon.  I'm sorry, my body can't handle doing EVERYTHING.
     Those feelings of anxiety I had when I saw the piles of stock at my other job just building up and my old manager not letting me work on any of it because she knew better and she wanted me doing this nonsense instead... it was all flooding right back to me again.

     I'm headed out here in another hour or so to go do a walk-in-interview somewhere else.  Maybe they won't want me (I've tried applying twice here already) but I'm going to try again.  I just want to work in a clean environment that's organized, where I get training, where people are glad I'm there and I am glad to be there.
     I realized this morning as I drove to work that never once did I celebrate getting this job.  From the very first moment, I didn't want to be there.  Everything inside of my head said, "you can't stay here."  And that's not the job for me.  Even though I could have handled it, I didn't want to put myself through that anymore.

     My husband has been supportive.  I know he's kind of freaking out inside that here we're going into the holiday season and he's feeling a bit more secure in his job but he still doesn't feel completely comfortable there yet.  I'm sure thinking about money is hard and I know that it is troubling, but if I wear myself out I won't be able to get another job.  And at this point...it's not worth it.  I need to have the motivation to do something new and find the excitement again.

     So, change of plans... onwards to a better future!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Focus on My Career - pt. 5 - First Month


     I’m fairly certain that I need to get moving on getting a different job. There were so many different red flags that popped up about this current one, but I just ignored them because I needed some money and it was the first job I’d been offered.
     But the red flags...so many! Waving in my face to the point that I should have just walked away. First, a manager that can’t concentrate on an interview more than a minute or two. She never once asks me about myself, instead just talking about herself the entire time that she wasn’t being interrupted or answering the phone every few minutes. The fact that at first she’s offering me a full time job but then gives me part time hours. Then explaining there’s no benefits for when I do go full time...but when?
     The place is a mess and she doesn’t show up the first day to set me up with my payroll passwords. I almost walk out at lunch time, but I was also so curious about this business that I wanted to know more, so I stayed. I went back the next day and it was a bit better, but I never did get to do any training videos. I had some hand’s on stuff but I had to ask question after question and eventually I just sat in the office doing digital restoration which is something I taught myself years ago, but there’s so little information about it out there and no one knows anything about it, so it’s all up to me.
But it was a job, it was a paycheck, so I tolerated it. I tolerated being forced to drive all the way out to Dayton for the day and getting back well after my time to go home was up. I tolerated having to go to Toledo a week later for a nothing job that didn’t result in anything because I wasn’t actually trained to do this job and had no idea what they were expecting.
     I’ve put up with the manager’s daughter-in-law (maybe? Her granddaughter’s mother at least) trying to be a second boss. From what my supervisor said, the owner wants her to be a supervisor, but the manager wants this gal to do it. So there is a split in who is in charge, and the other three of us are just sort of following along with whatever we’re told.
     All along my supervisor keeps saying that I should be in her position, that she just wants to go back to cleaning, and honestly I don’t blame her for wanting out because our manager is pretty terrible. I feel really bad for her because I know how it is to work under someone that says they don’t micro-manage but they do, and then are just disagreeable with everything you tell them.
     Then last week happened and we’re suddenly being told that business is low so that they’re going to have to put some people on restricted hours. I don’t get this mass text (TEXT!) that she sent out to the employees so I went down to talk to her myself. I’m told not to worry about my hours, although just a week before she’d told me she was going to up me to full time and then give me an extra dollar an hour. Now we’re told that we’re all being trimmed (except me but I won’t get that promotion thing) and one gal was basically fired, and another decided to quit and take unemployment.
     So now I’ve been in this job a month and have driving to Dayton, Toledo, then on Halloween in the pouring rain to Kentucky… I’ve cleaned dozens of pieces and seen my co-workers go from five of us to just three of us. And the one besides the supervisor is the worst kind of person I’ve ever met.
     Let me tell you about the girl named after a tree. She’s the first person I’ve met lately who definitely thinks that everyone should have children to take care of them. She’s the first “bingo” I’ve gotten, because the others, they totally get not having kids. But this one has at least two, not married, spending most of her time dealing with the deadbeats who gave her these children and working with welfare and all of that while at work, all while sitting there not actually doing work. And then the other day screaming at some poor woman about her daughter’s bus being late. “You told me 7:42, now you’re saying 7:43...” I guess it was ten minutes late? But she was screaming at this woman who has no control over the buses and there are so many different variables, but the rest of us sitting there didn’t dare say anything. I just put my headphones on and turned up the volume because I just didn’t want to listen to this horrible gal I have work with.
     So many red flags that I keep ignoring. But why? Because for some reason this job is pretty interesting. I’ve cleaned so many things and helped to fix a whole lot of items and to me that’s awesome. I think they’ve just come up with a bad way of doing things.
     For one, they split up work by a dollar amount per person. Instead it should be a teamwork kind of thing. Yes, everyone should do their share, but it should be done as a team so that every member is pulling their weight. And there should also be a collective goal, a prize, or something along those lines. But instead of doing something like that, they forced a few people out and now I’m wondering if I really should leave because now I feel rather bad about the gals who would be left.
     I think that’s the worst thing about this place. Yes, a manager should be concerned with making money, but should not berate the people below them. They should keep us all on the same page and be open and not say “no, you can’t tell anyone what I’m telling you.”
     Because, that’s totally what she did to me the other day when she said she’d probably save me for last if she had to get rid of everyone. WHAT? I should have been the first one to go because I was the newest one… well, maybe, the one they actually got rid of wasn’t cut out for the job to be honest.

     That’s where this leaves me right now. I probably need to just update my resume and then move on with my job applications again. This job really could have been a winner had it not been for how poorly run it is. I’d like to help but I really don’t think I can…?

Friday, October 4, 2019

Focus on My Career - pt. 4 - First Week

     So, I only have a little time to write this so I'll try to be as brief as possible.  I'm not sure what to think of this new job yet, only that I can physically and mentally do it, but I'm really not sure what I've gotten myself into and whether or not it's going to be something I want to do for awhile.

     I mentioned the interview and then bright and early on Monday morning I reported into my first day of work.  The general manager who was supposed to do all of my application and everything had called off after breaking her toe the day before and wasn't going to be in all day.  Immediately I wanted to just leave, but one fellow let me into the art portion of the business and told me to sit down at a computer, the internet was on...although what he thought I'd do on a strange computer with internet... randomly Google things?
     I wandered the rooms for a bit and took a mental inventory of a lot of stuff and then sat on my phone until the first person walked in...not the supervisor...someone else, also not the supervisor... finally she walks in and immediately gets frustrated with her log-in (she gets very frustrated with computers in the morning) and then took me on my second tour, almost as if she was trying to get me to tell her what should be done to get things cleaned up.
     Eventually I managed to get her to start teaching me things until I finally went to lunch out in my car, nearly had a nervous breakdown and proceeded to message everyone I knew that I was going to leave, that this wasn't working out, I wasn't even getting paid and who knew when the manager would be back...  Everyone patiently responded that I should wait it out for a week.
     I went back inside and they gave me a key to the place and sat me down at their computer where they do digital restorations (or as I found out later, all of the old supervisors did but no one there could) and also to fix their very nice photo printer. 
     With something I was finally comfortable with, I spent the afternoon working on getting the computer up and running, getting to learn the brand new Photoshop program they had (but had been screwed up by the previous users) and cleaned out a little piece of metal stuck in the photo printer and got it all working...digital restoration one, complete.  Not perfect, but everyone raved over it, so I guess it wasn't all bad.
     I went home that afternoon and had another anxiety attack and tried to work on finishing up dinner with tears running down my eyes because I was just so frustrated and anxious about all of it and I wasn't sure what to do.  After I ate dinner I started to feel better but I was still not liking this job at all because I felt like they all had this idealized view of me all of a sudden and I wasn't sure where it came from.  Sure, I have framing experience and a little recovery, but I've never been in this business before and they're all looking at me like I've been doing it for years...where did they even get this impression???

     Second day, still anxious but the general manager had returned and we were able to not only get my log in information, she input my previous day into the computer so now, hopefully, I'll be getting paid.  I felt a bit better.  She also said, "Don't worry, we're going to keep you even if we have to chain you here."

WUT?

     I had only worked one full day and not even with her (and barely talked during the interview, remember?) and they're already crazy attached.  I started to get another anxiety attack, but calmed down and worked at what I was now paid to do - cleaning up artwork that's sooty, smoky and came from someone's house fire.
     That's what the job pretty much entails, I was able to really get the gist of it this day as they showed me around (again) and I started reading the tags - this one from a fire, this one from a lightning strike, this one from a flood.
     Basically someone's belongings get ruined and they call in the insurance adjusters who decide whether to just give them money to replace these items or get them repaired if it's more cost-effective and/or if it's something that just can't be replaced.
     Our place gets called in to do quotes or just take everything back with them, the insurance decides whether it will work, then we get to work.  Some things can be repaired, some things can't and we call them "total loss" and they go back to the homeowner.  Sometimes things come back to us again if it's screwed up and then we lose all the money (so they're trying to fix that) and once everything is gone through by the owner the insurance or owner pays us.
     They're backlogged due to some guy who screwed it all up royally and didn't want to do things the way the company was supposed to do them so we keep getting items back and thus the supervisor was freaking out about it.
     The whole second day I wound up doing digital restorations until my eyes were sore and I should have quit because things weren't coming out on the printer like I wanted them to, but that's something I'll have to deal with later.  I already started making a mental list in my mind what we needed to ask the owners of these photos about their images and expectations.

     I felt a bit better going home that day since I had a D&D game to clean the house for and dinner to make and I was able to relax by nearly dying in the game - AGAIN.

     Third day I was warned I'd be going on a trip on the fourth day, but most of it was spent working on photo albums.  Because, yeah, we do that too.  In this case it was removing and cleaning thousands - and I mean THOUSANDS - of photos from this owner's albums and getting them placed in nice clean photo boxes so she could deal with them later.  It was a stress-free day, the gal I don't like wasn't there and except for the supervisor talking a mile-a-minute ALL DAY LONG... I saw a squirrel go by and that's something that I never saw at my previous job.

     Fourth day, we were supposed to leave around 7am but my supervisor got there late and traffic was horrendous through town all day long (we have no idea why) and I ended up having to learn to drive this big "Traverse" (it's what they called it whether that's actually what it was) clear to the other side of the state.  Supervisor talking ALL DAY LONG - AGAIN - I swear there's only a few things about her life I don't know about yet...
     We went to a place that had a dishwasher fire and had sent smoke into the main living space.  The owner didn't want us touching his art though the insurance adjusters did...we both did our job by making the quotes but we both prayed we wouldn't have to touch his stuff because some of these paintings belonged in a museum... 17th century - easily.  Amazing...but stressful. 
     Now, IF we had a nice clean storage area with nice clean work areas to use, maybe.

     Headed to lunch and my supervisor said in the middle of talking about her personal life that "I shouldn't be saying this but to be honest, you should be in this position and I should be in yours."

You know where I said that it felt like I might get moved up in a month if I stayed that long...?  I'm very much wondering if that won't be the case. 

     I guess they've been discussing something along those lines already, that they know I have all of this experience but if that's the case...I don't really know what to do.  I don't really want to make a 40 hour week of this job if I'm not getting any benefits out of it... I just don't know.

    Second place we hit was this couple's split-level that had a garage fire and we had to catalog the whole inventory of artwork inside the house and that took awhile to get it all done and packed up and taken out.  I hoped I wouldn't have nightmares and thankfully I didn't.  I used to have really bad anxiety over fires but I guess the more I'm starting to learn about them the less I'm scared of them.
     We didn't get back to town until 5pm which made my fourth day a 10-hour day plus the hour or more of drive time back and forth.


So...what do I think of this job?  I don't know.  I mean, I really wish they were more organized and I think the place could do with a whole lot of cleaning up.  Do I think that's worth doing at $14/hr...nope.  With no benefits?  Nope.  But, it's interesting and easy and so far I've been able to catch on to the way things work around there, just wishing that the general manager didn't have so many family members working there because some of them are sorta worthless and I know even if I were to get into a higher position I'll never be able to say anything to them.
    But, I guess for now it's a nice change of pace and I know a surprising amount of stuff about this job even without realizing how much the overlap was.  It's just a LOT and the drive is stressful which was part of the reason I had moved where I did some 8 years ago, to make the drive shorter.

Oh well... I guess I'll have to report on week 2 later!
   

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Glenhaven's Son Enirich - pt. 3 (Short Story)

   The Winter Winds were already starting to come to Glenhaven.  Enirich was used to Winter coming quickly upon the heels of the final harvest and most of the town was already finished with laying in the crops and stocking up the wood.
     There were many more here in this little village now.  So....so many more.
     From the northern area where they caravan parked four times a year and then extending out into the farmlands to the East, cobbled huts and tents were everywhere.  People whose faces were a pale to deep dark grey, walked among these homes, eyes shaded from the sun when it actually came out, wrapped up tightly against the cold winds that had begun to blow from the Northern mountains.
   
      Enirich's grandfather told him once that nearly five hundred years before the Drow lived here.  The ones that no longer could stand the darkness of the deep came here, dug out the mines, created the town, and worshipped their goddess.  The statue in the middle of town was once Elistraee, the Goddess of the Moon.  They were successful and eventually outgrew this tiny town and extended down to create the city of Waterfordshire, and also built villages to the far Northeast.
     That city grew large and successful.  Drow lived in peace on the surface, hired humans from the surrounding lands and sent them north to Glenhaven where they would help with the mines.  And for a time, perhaps two or three hundred years, the Drow had their region, the Elves to the South, the Dwarves to the West, and other races to the far East, and to the far, far South, the Dragonfolk.
     But something happened.  The great city of Centralia was leveled.  A powerful human wizard with the help of devils and dragons destroyed them.  The Elves went into hiding.  The Dwarves fought back until they were able to drive the evils back and secure their city.  But the Drow had nowhere to go but back into hiding underground.
     Kratos ruled above the region in a giant tower that floated on a cloud.  He despised the other races and wanted more than anything to destroy them.  For nearly a century his tower could be seen in the sky above the cities, sending evil magic to take out his enemies.

     Then one day, it stopped.

     The history books were vague about what happened.  Enirich had tried to research it in Waterfordshire but the libraries at that time were destroyed as well.  The verbal history that remained said that the humans left on the surface took over Waterfordshire and their self-appointed king, a powerful man of magic himself, was able to help rebuild the city.
      Even in the Academy Enirich had been told the king was once a Drow himself, able to save his people, who, even now, lived more or less peacefully in the catacombs below the surface.  The soldiers would drive them back underground or arrest the ones that were more dangerous, but otherwise, they were left alone.
     Kratos' tower had landed in the mountains to the East.  Those that ventured there never returned, but some said there was a Queen there who looked down upon the villages below from a tower window.  Others said Torganzantine the Queen of the Reds had brought the tower down to its final resting place.  Others yet said that the old Wizard had just died, and that's where the tower landed.  No one really knew, and it was so hard to get there that only the most hardiest adventurers attempted the journey...none would survive it.

     In Glenhaven, so the story went, Enirich's great great great great grandfather had hidden with their family within the mines of the Drow, and sealed off their escape hatch into the mountains.  The Drow would not be able to return to the surface the way they came, and he took advantage of that to take the city for the human race.
     Thinking about it now, as Enirich looked around at the many Drow who were living here now, he was rather ashamed at his ancestor.  These people just wanted to live as he did.  They wanted to live in peace and harmony, and yet...

     The Underdark was coming.

     The first signs were in the early spring, Caspian told him.  An opening to the underground was open, and the first small creatures had started to arrive, even as he was starting his third year at the academy.  Myconids and giant spiders were getting lost on the surface.  A dryad had gone crazy, and the unicorn in the forest had fled sometime that summer.  The magical fountain where it once lived had dried up.
     In the middle of the summer, Maribel and Matthew had gone hunting for herbs for a potion for someone who was sick and had discovered a newly hewn entrance...or perhaps exit was the right term, from the Underdark.  A darkness spell covered the area, killing the trees and plants.
     Not long after had Enirich returned to his home town to find that the Drow from Waterfordshire were on their way.  They were a rag-tag army, but they had been driven out of the catacombs... Immense creatures were pouring through the underground system.  Driders were hunting and killing and kidnapping those Drow that remained.
     A man whom Enirich was once told to capture, X'Granth N'zul was leading a caravan of immigrants North that Autumn.  He looked exactly like the wanted posters that bore his name.  He explained that they had nowhere else to go, but they would fight and protect their original home.  A few of these Drow, including himself, had grown up in Glenhaven as children.  Back then it had been called "Havenwoods".
     X'Granth took long journeys south to Glenhaven, pulling more of his people out, but by then the darkness from the woods had begun to extend down the valley, blocking off the road and access to the city.  It was dangerous to travel the roads now unless you could see in the dark as the Drow could.  Enirich was afraid of leaving, but he also had too much work to do as they fortified the city with more wood, large stakes, and closing off all entry points that they could.
     Caspian warned, time and again that they might have to fight all winter and to collect more stores of food for the people here.
     X'Granth volunteered to take a party south to Centoria, see if they could come back with more.  He didn't say he'd try to get help, he doubted his distant cousins the High Elves would help, and knew the Dwarves would not either.

     Just a few days ago word returned that Centoria was no more.  Caspian was seen in his shop performing a very long and daunting ritual and no one was allowed to see him for a few days.  When he was finished, the knob on his door no longer had the color which led to Centoria.  Instead, it led to some other place Enirich had never seen before... Caspian said it was in case they had to evacuate the city, but said no more.
     X'Granth sent word that he was on his way back to the village, but that the darkness was spreading further South now, and with Winter upon them, it would be a few weeks before he could make it back.

     Enirich's uncle the Mayor had hoped now that the snow was starting to fall that the Underdark would leave them be, but he was wrong.  A platoon of Duregar and creatures they had never seen before came from the caves, slaughtering a band of warriors from their village until they were finally pushed back.  Enirich had been with the band, and he was seriously injured until a lovely Drow woman came to him and healed his cuts.  Most of his soldiers survived, but the city was on edge now.
     Tra'Laga visited Enirich's bed a few different times over the next day or so as he recovered.  She brought him maps of the valley and they sat in his home, pouring over the notes.  Matthew and Maribel came to bring them food and give them more intel.  The cliffs surrounding the city were almost all completely shrouded in magical darkness.  The Drow could fight in it, and they were also the ones who came and went from it with information, but the humans were at a loss here.
     "We may have to escape," Tra'Laga looked downtrodden, her long white hair covering her lilac eyes.  Enirich could only just barely remember what it was like to be against Drow...he thought they were rather beautiful, once you got a good look at them.  Their grey skin almost sparkled in the daylight.  It could be just his hormones too...he wasn't really all that sure.
     "Caspian wants us to wait for X'Granth.  He said he has been slowly working at enlisting more help as they travel North.  But he's not sure if anyone's going to come."
     Maribel, sitting at the small chair nearby looked up, "Maybe our heroes will come?"
     Enirich shook his head, "I doubt it.  I took them as murderers, and they see me as their enemy, so I doubt they'll want to help this place again."
     The young girl looked downtrodden and Matthew patted her shoulder from where he stood at her side.  "I doubt a little group such as that could help something this big.  We'd need an army for that."
     "The army isn't coming..."  A new voice stated from the doorway.  Everyone turned to look at the small figure of Ellabee.  She pushed the door closed as a sharp wind filled with snow whirled inside.  Pulling a the hood down from her cloak she shook her head.  "Sorry to barge in so suddenly, but X'Granth just sent word that Centoria is in ruin.  The Black Shields and Golden Circle are on their way to push the dragons that have invaded out of the city, but it will take time.  Something drew multiple dragons there..."
     "Torganzantine has roosted again?"  Enirich leaned back, his brow creased.  "I mean, I know it's been around a hundred years...my textbooks said..."
     Ellabee stomped her feet and walked into the room, "No...  Caspian doesn't believe so.  Something much worse... A Dragon Lich."
     Maribel laughed awkwardly, "That's silly...there isn't such a thing."
     "Maybe not before."  The room went silent as Ellabee helped herself to tea from the fireplace.  She turned with both her hands around the small clay mug.  "There's also word that Tiamat is stirring from below... Bahamut has come to the land.  Caspian..."  Ellabee takes a sip slowly, swallowed it, and then continued, "I shouldn't say anything, but the Balance has been shifted.  Evil knows this is the time and they can draw on that to take over.  Something is causing it, something has created this evil and unless it is stopped, the planet is in danger."
     Enirich could feel a sharp pang in his stomach.  The cold breeze that had blown in just moments before was not the cause of his goosebumps this time.  "But, what can we do?  Run away?  We have only a handful of magicians and other types and Caspian isn't doing anything.."
     Ellabee waved a hand at him, "Oh he's doing plenty.  It doesn't seem like it but he's concentrating on spells right now to keep us in the daylight..."  She drifted off, "I probably should get back to him to make sure he actually eats and drinks something.  He forgets to take care of himself.  Even an Elf needs to meditate... recharge..."  Setting her mug down she pulled the hood back up over her head.  "Right now the immediate danger is the Underdark.  We need a plan to get that opening closed up again.  Then we'll worry about...whatever else comes."

     The four sat in silence long after Ellabee left them.  They could hear what sounded like a blizzard blowing outside.  It was traveling fast.  Matthew said he was pretty sure it would be done by morning, as he remembered storms like this one.  It would be headed to the mountains, and perhaps would give them a day or so to breathe from the attacks.
     "Too bad we don't have a way to destroy that cave..."  Tra'Laga mumbled, tapping the spot on the map.  "I'm sure it would take time to dig out...give us more time."
     Enirich and Maribel suddenly turned to one another.  Cousins of the same family of miners who had been blasting in the caves for centuries..."Blast powder!!"  They both exclaimed at once.
     Tra'Laga and Matthew both jumped, "Wha-what?!"
      "We just have to get into OUR mine!" Enirich jumped up from where he sat, leaned over and gave Tra'Laga a long hard kiss right on the mouth.  "You're brilliant!"  He turned to Maribel who already was pulling her coat on.  "We just need to get to the mine using the storm as cover and blow it up!"

     The two cousins were already moving to the door in sync, the first time the awkwardness had finally evaporated.  They had, as children, played as sister and brother, being only a year or so apart.  But they had spent a lot of time in the mine with their fathers as it was the town's main source of income, but also its biggest secret.  Matthew had learned of it only a few months ago, but had not known how the mine worked...blasting powder was the secret. 
     "We'll need your help Tra!  Neither of us can see in the dark..."  Enirich pulled on his coat, tossing his friend hers.  "I practically know the route by heart, but it'll help to have someone with us who can actually see."
     "And cast faerie fire?"  The Drow was still sort of in a daze from her first kiss.  She didn't know it was that nice, quite honestly.  But she was always business first, pleasure later, as her father told her.  The Black Fist was a hard business to run, but she helped out when she could.  "Let's go.  Faster gone, faster back."
     "Not without me!"  Matthew said, finally following the others.  He took his bow from a hook by the door, strapping on his quiver.  "You'll need someone to watch your backs."
   
     The group pushed its way into the blizzard.  It would be a long night.