Equal parts acid bath and warm, honeysuckle-smelling hug. You never know what you might get and if you’re lucky or unlucky you might get a dose of both in the same breath.
It’s not for everyone, I know.
Sorry. I’ve already called the wahmbulance and they told me to buck up and stop wasting taxpayer money.
I’m happy to have so many people to love that I feel stretched thin. It’s not a bad problem to have, in any way.
I spent a lot of time this year working on a project that more or less fizzled out when I realized it was not going to make it. It was one of those projects that took over everything in my head, one where I thought, “Yeah, this is the one. This is going to change everything.” And then it’s not the one and it doesn’t change everything, and that’s okay. It stings a little to have to take my lumps and move on, and it means I lost a lot of months to a thought process that ended up not getting me where I thought I needed to be, but that’s how life works and that’s how we big-brained monkeys learn and it’s evolution, baby. I learned things and I think I’m better for it in several ways, although I’m still not where I want to be and I’ve got a lot more grey hairs sprouting like tiny fireworks from my scalp than I did this time last year. (I stood in front of the mirror the other day and tried to pluck the ones I could see, and then I found a patch, a whole village of them, living together, and had to stop plucking or risk a bald spot. That is a corner turned.)
In some ways I feel ancient and world-weary and in other ways I feel like I have another life that’s incubating just below the surface and waiting to hatch when conditions are perfect. I’ve been super productive for a few weeks now, with little bursts of creativity here and there that have surprised and delighted me. I’m also quite exhausted and, in strong lighting, I look like a nightmare. I should get more sleep and drink more water. But there aren’t enough hours, are there?
In a couple of weeks I will turn 32, which is an age that is respectable and boring. I feel 32 in every possible way. I’m not complaining, necessarily.
I’m going to dive right in to something I’ve been contemplating writing about for a long time but haven’t had the courage. Because it’s embarrassing and gross. And I tend to only want to write about embarrassing, gross things in past tense with a dollop of self-deprecating humor once I’ve safely moved on.
But this is a present-tense thing I’m struggling with and it’s not over yet. I know some others caught in this cycle too and they know the cyclical frustration and ecstasy involved in it.
I’m a skin picker. Have been all my life. Lately it’s worse than ever and I’ve finally had that moment where I’ve decided that I have to fix it, have to do whatever it takes to stop, because it’s spiraling and it’s stressful, and I know it’s indicative of a deeper problem.
I’m putting this after a jump because I think it might get long. And gross.
I stayed home from work today. Blame it on not getting home from work until 1 a.m. and then being up half the remaining night with an angry stomach. I have powered through days on three hours of sleep more times than I care to recount but today it was not happening. I fed my baby breakfast and kept him away from sharks and live wires until naptime, and then I went back to bed. Sadly I did not get to sneak in another nap the entire rest of the day, but sick days are not the same once you’re 31 and have a kid.
I spent the day wrangling Holden and counseling him on how much more effective words would be than the VERY LOUD whine-grunt he uses to lodge complaints. The sound seriously plucks at something deep and reptilian within me that makes me want to smash things. But in positive language developments, he now says “I love you!” fairly enthusiastically when prompted, thanks to that crazy dog I complained about. He can also locate the dog’s heart when asked. Touché, dog. You taught my kid how to love. Sorry I complained that you were too happy, yeesh.
To be honest, I am only blogging at this late hour because I’m procrastinating going downstairs and going to bed. That is how tired I am. My exhaustion and my laziness are doing battle and you, dear reader, are the real winner here.
What else can I type-blab about?
Oh, we saw a groundhog across the street the other day. Is it THE groundhog?! I don’t know. It never came close enough for me to play nature tracker* to compare and contrast its traits with the photo I have. Obviously, it’s likely that there was more than one groundhog living around here, so even if one of them was hurt or killed, there could be others. But we have decided, officially, to believe that this is the groundhog one of our neighbors tried to murder, and that he fought off death valiantly, and that he is going to eat the shit out of some garden veggies for revenge.
* kudos to you parents who got the Dinosaur Train reference. Pteam Pteranodon 4 LYFE!
My mind is this great humming butter churn of a thing, moving unformed chunks of ideas around slowly and with great struggle.
I have nothing to write about. It is driving me fucking bonkers. I have been sitting here staring at this screen, trying to make it happen, trying to remember something, anything, worth sharing and I have nothing. Everything is extremely mundane. I can’t just write about my kid all the time, cool as he is. I can’t write about work, insane as it is. That’s it, though. I don’t have anything else. I’m not overly happy or overly sad about anything. I just continue to have absolutely nothing to fucking talk about and I think it’s time to pronounce the blog dead because maybe then I will get my mojo back.
I can’t keep writing about not writing.
OK. Now that I got that out of my system, I am just going to write. Some stream-of-consciousness shit helps unclog the mind, doesn’t it? I swear I think I have done this before here and yes I did just search my archives for an example and I came up short.
You are going to think this is ridiculous but I just made myself cry up there, when I decided to consider killing the blog. I’m not even PMSing. I am that emotionally constipated and frustrated. This thing that is mine that used to give me such joy is such a point of stress now. Self-imposed, completely stupid stress! No one cares! Once Google Reader is dead, there might be four people who ever remember to come by here and they know how fucking crazy I am anyway and don’t expect anything from me!
I’m, like, three months behind on Holden’s month-by-month posts. I feel a ridiculous amount of guilt about that, which is sort of making me feel like I shouldn’t write about anything else until I get those out of the way. Stupid.
Is it living in Nashville that has sapped me? Because crazy shit used to happen to me and around me all the time in Memphis. Nothing happens here except sometimes I get irrationally angry at a song Pandora will play. I don’t ever see or interact with people except for the ones I live with or the ones I work with, and all those people are off limits from my (public) online smartassery. I want to tell stories about all you delightful weirdos, dammit! Middle management has taken that from me.
I was thinking earlier about how I have been a middle manager at heart my whole life. How I always wanted to do roll call at school and take names when the teacher left the room. I always wanted to please the authority figures in life so they would know that secretly, despite my age, I was one of them. This explains why I never snuck out of the house or blew curfew without calling my parents and letting them know I’d be a smidge late.
Being a manager, though, has been an interesting trip. I have always always always been nonconfrontational and uncomfortable with delivering bad news or having to provide discipline or critique. It’s the people pleaser in me who is crippled by the thought of hurting someone’s feelings or saying something that will make them like me less. Learning to be OK with people not liking me has been a lifelong struggle, even though I am POSITIVE that there have been plenty of people throughout my life who haven’t liked me. Because, as I discover every few years or so, I am a serious asshole sometimes.
So now I kind of have to get right with that asshole part of me and harness it for good. Harness it to keep people honest, to foster productivity, to pressure people to stay on track. Use it to provide a push but not too hard.
WHY AM I WRITING ABOUT WORK? OH MY GOD, NO ONE CARES.
Work is my life right now. I think about it almost obsessively. How can I be better, do better, cultivate better results?
Is it because I think I’m a terrible mother? Or do I think I’m a terrible mother because I am so focused on my career?
Ew, those feelings are sticky. Best not touch them.
Put $40 in pocket. Ugh, these pants look terrible. Change stupid pants. Go to work. Put $5 dinner on credit card. Never find $40 again.
I used to have the urge to write all the time, just to indulge those itchy fingers and get those mundane thoughts out into the ether, get them out of me. Now I spend a lot of time thinking about sitting down to write something and then thinking about what I would write and getting SO FUCKING BORED with myself. I have nothing to add to the conversation at large. I never did, probably, but I used to do it anyway because that’s what you did on the internet seven years ago.
It’s annoying. I’m mad at my muse; she is off somewhere without me and I always get this way when I feel abandoned.
I joked week before last about us having to adopt a new system at work because at the time I thought it would be a few curse words and a few chuckles and then we’d get on with our lives and just make do, but every day at work since last Monday has been the worst day of my life, and I wish I was exaggerating but I’m actually being entirely serious and, yes, I know how pathetic that sounds and, no, I don’t particularly care how pathetic you might think I am. Because I know I am not the only one who feels this way and I know I am doing everything to try and make the system work for me, but I am being stymied at every turn. I would venture to guess that the vast majority of folks working the production side of the day (ahem, night) fantasize about snuffing out their own lights and escaping the bubbling Hell that putting out the paper has become in one short week because it’s not like this is some temporary setback we are going through. THIS IS NOW HOW EVERY SINGLE NIGHT AT WORK IS GOING TO BE FROM NOW UNTIL THE PAPER FOLDS ENTIRELY. It’s going to be this endless cycle of slow load times, slow save times, fixing other people’s shit that I was told I wouldn’t be expected to fix, fruitless searches for where someone else put something, fruitless searches for where I MYSELF put something, crashes, network downtimes, proofs taking two minutes to print if they even print at all, stories disappearing, photos not scaling, crashes, corrupted files, inconsistent edits, boxes that won’t update, crashes, jumps that won’t move, advance pages that were never created, ad makeup putting things in the wrong spot, un-re-named factboxes, crashes, incorrect stylesheets, missing library elements, did I mention crashes?, confusion between what’s a snippet and what’s a library element, extra spaces, corrupt notes mode, forgotten folios, crashes, untoned photos, and JESUS PLEASE TAKE THE WHEEL.
Does the average newspaper-basher have any idea what it’s like to go from being able to do your job with speed and efficiency and a semblance of competency to, one day, being completely hobbled in all those areas and then some, and to have to spend an ENTIRE SHIFT on what used to take you three hours at most. Say you are a doctor and suddenly you can only speak and be spoken to in Spanish, except the only Spanish you have ever been exposed to is the Spanish that you heard on a tape about whale songs for three hours one day and also, guess what! That tape was formal Spanish, not CONVERSATIONAL Spanish, so you are really fucking lost.
And the real bitch of it is that our fantastic system that they chucked to the curb is what made it possible for the company to lay off ALL THOSE PEOPLE way back when — remember all those layoffs? — because that system was zippy and fast and easy and made us much more efficient than we had any right to be, all things considered.
But now here we are with the same amount of people — a skeleton crew on a good day, a veritable ghost ship on a bad one — and the same amount of pages to get out, but we are using a system that requires six clicks for every action and three minutes of waiting on it to talk to the cloud and think about What It All Means before it actually does anything, and then sometimes for no fucking reason it decides to time out or crash anyway. Those minutes add up and suddenly it becomes difficult to do your usual workload of 1.5+ sections every night plus advance design plus copy editing plus web posting. And let’s not even talk about trying to sit and think about how to make anything look good.
I’m eaten up with impotent rage and frustration over how all of this has gone down. We got screwed over. We weren’t ready to launch and they made us. The backend wasn’t ready to go and they made us go anyway, totally unprepared. And everything has been completely fucked for a week and counting and we have to raise holy hell to get any guidance and help on anything. We’re scrambling, trying to stay ahead. Putting out fires on deadline every night. This system. This fucking system. I feel sorry for any paper who felt like moving to Saxotech was an upgrade for them. What were they using before? A chisel and stone? Smoke signals?
No one really seems to want to talk publicly about how horrible Saxotech is. I don’t understand why. We need to talk about how fucking horrible Saxotech is so they will fix the horribleness and I can do my job without having to scream-cry on the way home from work every night three hours after I was supposed to get off because something went horribly wrong and no one knows why. If the company thinks they are saving money, I would like to see those receipts because we are all having to log a ton of overtime just to get the paper out every day.
I realize writing about work is reckless and stupid but honestly if they fired me for running my mouth and insulting corporate’s honor, they would be doing me a favor. Because — I don’t know if I have mentioned this — MY JOB MAKES ME WANT TO HURL MYSELF INTO ONCOMING HERPES-INFESTED SHARK TRAFFIC.