2020-05-28 Hide and Seek

I start walking. I start writing. That’s my way. Lately I’ve felt like it’s all just the same shit on a different day. I’m inches away from getting my MFA in Poetry and I haven’t written anything worthy of a poem in months.

A few times when I took a class with the “Todfather”, I tried fashioning a poem from one of my blog posts and he called me on it. Just that it was all wordy. All I did was take the best parts of the post and put a bunch of line breaks in which is incredibly lazy.

A few other times I’ve done that and it takes a lot of revisions (and a healthy dose of mystical hand waving and reciting incantations to invoke the Poem spirit) to get something that resembles a poem.

But what is a poem? Can’t it just be what it is and not try to be something more or something better? Or something that meets someone else’s definition of a poem.

I can write iambic pentameter like a boss. My end rhyme skills are strong. But that’s no value in this century. I’m not saying I’m Robert Frost, but i believe I could emulate his style a lot easier than I could, say, Natalie Diaz or Ilya Kaminsky. As a poet, I feel like I was maybe born in the wrong century.

Then again, I’m a woman so I would have been screwed either way.

Some accomplished writers will advise you to write every day to keep your creative brain strong and fresh and active. I would say you should include doing revision in that. Some accomplished writers will tell you they don’t do either. They write when the writing comes to them and asks them to write. So there’s no right answer.

My point is. I want to write and haven’t been able to do that. Today I’m going to give myself an hour in isolation with a book of poetry my friend Michelle loaned me. I’m going to see if that stirs something inside me. I need it to.

In other news, my current work team is unraveling like a cheap sweater. Three developers have been kicked off the project (two were fired and one was moved to a different project). Another one quit with no notice and another is threatening to quit.

We’re replacing these people like changing a pair of underwear. But these people are not pieces of clothing, they are people.

And I don’t drink cool-aid anymore so I’m trying not to fit this fucking puzzle piece into something that can work. I’m trying to keep my distance, keep my head down, not insert my opinion or care, but the Universe help me, it’s quite impossible

One of these people, the dev that was moved to a different project, is a friend of mine. It makes my heart hurt. Now the PM is a long time friend of mine who I hold dear and she’s starting to crack. She’s a strong woman and listening to her for an hour last night was so tough. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard this woman break down in tears. I’m fact, I may never have heard her cry before. It fucking sucks.

Part of my job has been to introduce new people to the project and onboard them. She introduces me to them by saying some great things about me and with two new people this week she said I was “the glue that holds the team together”.

No pressure there though right?!

The whole thing is so fucked up.

I was brought on to help out. To bridge the PM gap until she started. To offer documentation support behind the scenes. To take notes and do data entry and do other admin things like coordinate meetings. 10-15 hours a week. Now I’m working more that twice that and last week, with so much personal shit going on, I started to become unraveled too.

I’m nearing the end of my hour in this treadmill and really need to wrap anyway so I can dive into that mess.

By the way, there’s no poetry in all this mess. I mean, there is, but not 21st century poetry that utilizes images and juxtaposition to convey a feeling AND meets the current acceptable standard for what a poem is. Or is there? 🤔

Fuck it!
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-04-10 Stress (and Easter 🐣) in the Time of Covid

I was thinking about writing about stress today, because I’m noticing how the extra pressures put upon people make them react. And how different those reactions are. Some retreat into their shells while others appear to be coming out guns blazing.

I attended a Facebook live meeting yesterday put on by my kids’ school district and in the comments/chat people were very vocal with praise, questions, concern, and their frustrations. I had a hard time listening to the speaker because I was so distracted by the comments scrolling by.

I personally was waiting for some info on how the grades and grading would be handled for high-school students. I’ve got a senior who still needs to earn credits to graduate and have the opportunity to bring her grade up in two classes. And don’t get me started on my son, who is in 10th grade and is a constant battle even without a pandemic.

The short story for grades k-8 is that their 3rd quarter grade will stick. As I understand it, that will be their grade and the rest of the school year/online learning will focus on keeping them moving forward with regards to core areas but no grades. But the same does not apply for high-schoolers. They are going to start grading next week again, with assignments etc. Its not clear how much or what weights will be placed on different areas.

In any case, my natural inclination is to wait until they get it sorted out but it’s been like 3 weeks now and it’s still unclear. I’m sympathetic with some of the frustrations expressed in the live chat comments, but I try to remind myself that everyone is doing the best they can and I know that to be true.

See, I don’t even know how to react in this situation. I think, I’ll just email Dr. Rikli but then I think On how his (and everyone else’s) email is probably blowing up daily with questions. I dunno.

I do know that today is Friday and the kids are at their dad’s house now and a little part of me is just feeling relief from not having to be task-master during the day while I’m trying to work or get other stuff done. I’m looking forward to this weekend and making progress on school and my side projects. And getting to spend some QT with Jim.

It doesn’t feel like Good Friday, or Easter weekend, or even April (26 degrees out right now, brrrrr 🥶). In a normal year we’d be planning our grand egg hunt and considering gathering with family (Not for Easter necessarily with my family though since they are a bunch of heathens 😜).

We’ll still do an egg hunt when the kids return. I love that they still love doing this even though they are teenagers. For them it’s all about the competition. We normally like to dye Easter eggs too cuz that’s artsy and fun, but that might not happen because eggs are in short supply this year. Nobody eats hard-boiled but me and I’m not needing 2 dozen eggs right now. 🤢

In any case, the time I would normally spend on some of this stuff will be available for whatever. Perhaps I should do my taxes? 🤔 Haha.. jk!! 😂😂😂

Jim is off today and is still sleeping. I have a long day today with lots of meetings. He transitioned to weekend mode last night and I’m not quite there, but I’ll get there.

Just a few more hours to go.

Well, what started out as a post about stress hopped it’s way to kids and school and Easter and my thoughts about the weekend. Go figure! In any case, it’s time to get to work. Tick-tock.

Cheers to Friday,
~Miss SugarCookie

2018-03-22 Easier Said Than Done

I’m completely stuck and and have to start here. It’s 2 in the afternoon and I’m so frazzled and unfocussed I can’t tell you which way is north. Of course I know north is at the back of my house, but I’m talking about “true north”. Yesterday, all my good intentions starting schoolwork were derailed by being online for one work thing and then having one thing leading directly to another until before I knew it, the kids were arriving home and demanding my attention.

One of the benefits of working from home, is being here when they get here and I can thoughtfully remember, by now, that as soon as that happens, my attention will be pulled away from whatever it is I am doing. This is why I am looking at the clock on the laptop in front of me and literally freaking out that I’ve accomplished nothing today.

Yesterday I was still of the mindset that I could balance all things and it will all work out. “Shift things a little to the left, and ‘Waa-laa’, everything gets done”. I was going to block out some hours in the mornings to work on school and then back off of work a bit to ease my burden. But I guess that’s not what real life had in mind for me. No.

So yesterday ended being a fail for my new “approach” and the reality of my new job is that when something needs doing, it’s generally “right now”. That’s kinda like my old job. It would be a fly-by and all of a sudden the priorities have shifted and the new shiny thing would be #1. It’s slightly different now, in that I don’t have a dozen other priorities, but what I do have that I did not before is the obligation of school.

I’ve committed myself to that. The semester is half over, and I’m not about to sacrifice my standards for my writing, critical essays, or anything I might need to produce to feel like I’m successfully well above par on all of it. I’m committed, but pretty soon I’m going to need to be committed if I keep procrastinating to the last minute and then have to scramble to get it all done. I’m literally driving myself mad with this. It’s partially because I know better and I should have learned my lesson by now that “slow and steady wins the race”.

I’m sure pulling off some successful assignments in the past with minutes to spare has not helped. I’ve tricked my brain into thinking its not a big deal. Like childbirth, you know it hurts like hell, but you don’t really remember until the labor pains start and you go “oh shit, now what have I done”. For real.

Anyway, the thing that is different today is that I happened to look at the student schedule for assignments due. For the love of all the gluten-free crackers in the universe, it’s March 28. That’s six fucking days away. So instead of being “easy breezy beautiful cover girl” today, I’m being a lunatic running around, stress eating, and freaking out about not being able to focus on anything.

Even before I looked at the schedule, I decided that since my plan for yesterday didn’t work at all, I was going to completely change things up today. I skipped the gym and instead hit the dunkin donuts for a macchiato. After that, I came home and finished taping off my dining room to paint (as if THAT is a priority). Then I wanted to get through an hour of training videos before we had our morning call. That’s about the time I looked at the semester schedule. Then I had my “oh shit” moment.

I immediately tried to organize the dates and what I need to get done each day between now and the 28th to hit that deadline. I did that last time, but I’m not sure I ever stuck to it, but it helped write it all down to release it from my brain anyway. I then tried to focus on the training videos, but only got about half way through the first one before it was time for the morning meeting. After that, no surprise I had actual work that needed to get done today so I worked for an hour.

The next thing after that was a trip to the bookstore. I needed to find a few new things to add to my list and hopefully something that I will 1) Be able to read through in the next week and 2) That will inspire me to write something new, which I have done very little of this month. I acquired four new (old) books and returned home for lunch.

Hey did I mention the stress eating. Since I started my little freak out, I have pretty much been eating non-stop. Every time I sit down to try and focus on something, I think I have to have a snack with me…. Aaaannnnd, most of them are not super healthy.

Just a little bit ago I tried to sit down and read from one of my assigned texts, but felt very sleepy. That’s when I looked at the clock and realized there was just a short time before the kids come home and then all bets are off and I have to go MOM for a while.

I don’t really have a conclusion, you know, this one is completely unfiltered SugarCookie not knowing what to do next. I feel slightly better having ranted a little bit and now if I accomplish NOTHING else today, at least I will have blogged. Two-birds-one-stone stuff. Don’t even get me started on my step count for the day. All that is totally going on the back-burner while I figure out this situation.

It’s now like half an hour before the kids get home and I’m going to see if I can shut down and re-boot my brain. I gotta get in gear. I’ve got to figure out how to get everything done. I’ve got to find my “true north” and let that be the way. There is no other way.

The Only Direction is Forward,
~Miss SugarCookie

2018-01-29 This is What Happens…

…When you substitute what you should be doing with everything else that’s not what you should be doing.

Every day we have to make choices about what to do with our time. Much of that is dictated by choices we have already made. We have to go to work because we need to pay the bills for our houses and cars and lifestyles. We have to drive our kids to the store or soccer practice or spend time helping them with homework because we decided to have children (or decided to throw caution to the wind about the matter at some point). We have to mow the lawn because we have chosen to have a lawn.

Now that I think about it, almost all the things we spend time on are because we made that life for ourselves and there is such a very small amount (of time) left, that we are really free to do anything else. There is also some weight to each one of the things we have to do, or should be doing, based on the impact it might have in our lives if we don’t do those things.

For example, if you decided to stop going to your job, pretty quickly someone would decide to stop paying you and then you would be in a tricky pickle about how to pay those bills. This is a lot heavier than, say, deciding not to mow your lawn. So what if the grass grows another week? What’s really going to happen and who is really going to care? You might be able to push this task off for a while without any residual affect besides maybe your neighbor giving you the stink-eye.

In my life right now, I’m living with the very strange attitude that none of it is that important and that, whatever happens, it’s all going to work out just fine. This is so very counter to who I have been historically that it’s kind of bizarre to think about. I question why that shifted and if it will be a permanent change in my life or if its just some temporary state I’ve dropped into for self-preservation while I attempt to recover from whatever perceived traumas I’ve endured in the not so distant past?

Years ago I would have freaked out if I didn’t have a job or was not making enough money to pay my bills. Yet right now, as I type this, its not really bothering me that much. Yes, I think about it, and I have some level of concern, but not enough to really press for more hours or find a full time job. I’m also not that concerned that my sink is full of dirty dishes or that I need to get my roof replaced. Large or small, the weight just doesn’t seem that heavy.

This aloofness has had an interesting impact on my daily choices. I feel more free than ever to just get up every day and do whatever I want. I feel more at ease with setting aside a task and not worrying as much as I would historically. In a way, this is fantastic because it means my life is less stressful. I enjoy going to the gym to workout. I enjoy going to walk around Walnut Creek. I enjoy writing and messing around in the garden and I’m choosing to do those things instead of things I should probably be doing. And I’m happy.

I’ve also found myself choosing to do things I normally don’t like in the face of some larger, looming deadline. For example, in the past week I worked on sorting and filing paper mail, reorganization of my filing system, and beginning to tackle the monster that is my electronic mail. I worked on patching the hole in my dining room wall where my old thermostat was and installed a new one. I took down my Christmas lights and finished putting away the last of the decorations. I even archived all my files from 2017 from my laptop and reorganized my external hard drive too. These are all chores I typically don’t care for (well, except maybe installing the thermostat, that was fun).

I’ve chosen to do those things instead of put more hours into work or reading for school or my first large assignment that is due on January 31st. I’ve procrastinated seemingly important things, and yet I still feel good. In fact, I feel great. Not only am I not worried about those heavy hitters, but I’m also super stoked about being productive on other fronts. I dig the fact that my office is now (mostly) organized and the fact that I don’t have to think about those damn Christmas lights anymore. I really feel like this is how life should be. I want to live this way all the time.

I recognize those deadlines and concerns are still there, and I’m certainly responsible enough to not let it go too long before I put in some real effort to get things done. I just want to continue to not stress about it. It just FEELS better this way.

So if this is what happens when you substitute everything that you should be doing with everything that’s not that.. then “challenge accepted”. Again, I don’t know if this is a temporary thing, but in any case, I’m just going to sit back and enjoy it.

Don’t Sweat the Small (or Big) Stuff,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-06-21 Still Too Much

Things have transitioned from “feeling better because the weight of the job stress is melting away” to “oh shit, I have two days left to finish some stuff”. It started at four, now three, now today, waking up at 5AM again, it’s two. TWO DAYS LEFT OF WORK.

Today I have to switch gears and really stop focusing on doing work and focus more on conversations giving work to other people. Well, one other person anyway – which will be too much too. Hopefully, the newer folks on the team will be picking some things up to help real soon.

Last night I took the kids to visit my Dad who I did not see on Father’s day. I don’t see him very often, maybe four or five times a year including Christmas. In fact, it’s mostly holidays, not that I would consider Father’s day a holiday. They were just getting home and had Godfathers pizza for dinner and I lifted a couple of slices of that since I had not eaten. My dad opened a bottle of my favorite wine (which I brought to Thanksgiving last November that apparently nobody wanted).  Later we shared a strawberry pie that I made  (my late Grandmother – his mom’s recipe). I finally told him I quit my job.

If there would be one person I would expect to get some grief from or at least be somewhat worried about my choices, it would be my dad. However, I presented it in such a way, there was nothing snarky or skeptical or judgmental someone could say. I painted a picture of 2016 and then went into more detail about my most recent experience in Phoenix and coming home to even more “drama”, with no time for rest in-between. I talked about working 3 weeks straight and not sleeping well and not having time for the kids. After all that, who in their right mind would question my choice. He didn’t.

Yesterday I felt a fair amount of anxiety over, well work primarily, but also just the idea that “stuff” was not getting done and I wanted something that I could point to and say “look, I finished that”. It didn’t happen. Not enough anyway. But talking about my woes with my Dad (and his Wife) made me feel better. I think talking to people in general makes me feel better, but I sometimes feel like it’s a one or two shot deal.

Last fall I talked to my mom multiple times about my situation with Matt and by the 3rd or 4th time she was suggesting counseling. I don’t typically want to burden other people with my heavy stuff, so when she said that, I knew she was 1). Genuinely concerned about my mental health but also 2). Tired already of hearing the same things again. After that, I stopped bringing it up. I never went to see a counselor, because that’s never worked for me before (and I’ve tried two or three times in my life).

With friends, I feel like I really do only have one shot. I tell my story, get their opinion, and then we never talk about it more. The story is ongoing, but honestly not a lot has changed in the last 6 months. What more can you say about it? Yes, I still feel like I made a mistake (several mistakes) last year. Yes, I still feel sick thinking about Matt dating some other girl. Yes, I still want to talk to him and have to resist texting. Yes, I still cry about it. Maybe not as often as I was six months ago, but the road to recovery is long and slow to travel.

I feel like people don’t want to hear my broken record of a sob story. This is why a blog is such a great idea. I can say the same thing day after day after day, and since nobody (not nobody) is reading, nobody (not nobody) will be bored out of their mind with it.

Just like the last few weeks when I probably have talked about quitting my job almost daily.. It does not matter because I can do that here and will not feel like a burden on anyone but those people who perhaps are choosing to silently, anonymously accompany me through it. If you are reading this right now, thanks for sticking with me.

It’s almost 6AM and really time to figure out what today looks like. Hopefully it will include me pointing at something and getting to say “look, I finished that” and that “Too Much” gets just a little smaller. Fingers crossed.

Time to Make the Doughnuts,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-03-14 That’s Just Not How it Works

Not enough sleep again last night. Five and a half hours is not enough to make up for the 2.5 I had the night before. If you put the two together, that’s a descent night’s sleep, but that is not how it works.

I was up at 7 again and already working to prep for the work day. As a team lead, I not only have to get my own to-do lists in order, but I also have to make sure everyone else on the team has their priorities straight. The last couple weeks have been murder for issues which has meant putting the rest of our projects on pause to take care of that. Now, things are behind schedule and we need to pick up the pace to stay on track. In my world, the train generally does not stop when other things come up, so it always creates a higher stress situation. It might be nice for a change if people actually adjusted our project plans to account for unforeseen circumstances, but that’s not how it works.

It’s all part of the reality of this job, so I’ve had to learn how to not let it get to me. Sometimes, that’s tough. Powering through on very little sleep makes it even harder.

I can sort of feel already that today is the day that I’ll be missing having a bit of a coffee. Hot tea just does not sound appealing. I’d actually like to go back to sleep for a bit right now, and that’s not going to happen either. That’s just now how it works.

If that’s not how it works, you have to learn to work with it – or change something.

Ready, Set, Go,
Miss SugarCookie

2017-01-19 Puzzle Pieces

What I’ve got to describe in order to form a complete picture of my life right now is a series of puzzle pieces. Each individual aspect of my life right now is segmented and has it’s own complexities and deserves some consideration when trying to make the complete picture make sense. It’s going to take some thought and evaluation to recognize that the edge of one piece that has this slash of red across it fits next to this other one over here that’s mostly blue, but the hint of a red dot on the right side. Maybe none of it fits together. Maybe that’s my problem. Maybe the problem is that there are just too many damn pieces. Maybe the problems are all in my head. I don’t know.

I’ve admittedly been in a deep and profound place for several cycles of the moon now and have not done a ton of writing about it since November. I was sure that my trip to Mexico would be just the thing I need to bounce back. After all, I’m just a girl with a broken heart right? Just a girl with a broken life right? No big deal because it’s just one life on a planet who’s seen billions come and go. Quite literally billions. My life is but a spec in the vastness of time and space anyway so what’s the deal being so dramatic about it??!

But being on vacation in a tropical location was not the fix I was looking for. If anything, it was more of an eye-opener. It made me face the fact that my problems are more real, and serious than I would liked to have admitted. It also forced me realize that I need to be the one to actively seek the changes required to solve my problems. No other person or event is going to make that happen.

I’ve got a high-stress job and I’m a single parent with joint custody of my children. I’m no longer in a relationship, as of 2016 with lingering loose ends that have never been tied up. I’m struggling with the other relationships in my life and I struggle with what I am doing with my life and what I should be doing. I want to be healthy and that feels like a key first step to making all the other pieces fall into place. I hope so, but again, I just don’t know.