Tag Archives: work

The Month That Wasn’t

The Month That Wasn’t

A lot can happen in a month.

And a lot did, but it was all overshadowed by the new job.  It took two months, but I finally started to pick up all the steps and start gaining some speed.  Then April hit.  At the beginning of the month, we got DOZENS of requests all at once from one client without any warning.  As we were trying to get through all those while still keeping up with the regular work load, the other new person, who had started just the month before I did, left.  So the team that was already down one person and had two people who were still under supervision, which took extra time from one of the staff who did know what they were doing, was now down another.  It made for a long month.  I worked through lunch a lot, stayed after half an hour-45 minutes, and was cranking through so much work that I was physically exhausted every night and was dreaming I was still working.  It’s really hard to focus on anything else when you feel like that.  I stopped hanging out with Nikki, I didn’t go anywhere I didn’t have to, and the things I did have to do I couldn’t get a lot of enjoyment out of.  It was the 25th before we finally broke the back of it, and I just about burst into tears.

It takes a while to recover from an intense period like that, but unfortunately it ended just as real life is getting its own kind of intensity.  I won’t have a weekend at home until the 21st I think.  A lot of it is good stuff, but I still need to find time to recharge.  Sleep in, watch TV, knit, run or ride a bike, work in the garden…

My list of things for fun almost sounds like a work list.

Anyway.  I have a list of catch up posts.  In June I am setting myself a Blog Every Day challenge.  But for now, know that everyone is well, things are green and growing, and life moves on a pace.

It’s a new month.  And a lot can happen.

Coming Up For Air

Coming Up For Air
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Random cat picture. I don’t talk about him in the post, but isn’t he handsome?

Rising to the surface briefly to report that I am not dead.  Yay!  By way of summary:
  1. I started actually training on the new job last week.  Hurrah!  I think once I master it, it will be good, but right now it’s terribly frustrating.  I’m slow and stumbling and I hate not being good at things.  But everyone on the new team is really nice (and young!  ZOMG, so young…), and there’s lots of room for me to develop once I get the basics down, so I just have to be gentle with myself for the next few months.
  2. The washing machine is fixed.  To the tune of $210 dollars.  Ouch.  But worth it.  The technician was worried about my water supply (it leaks a few drops an hour) and my hoses.  I can replace the hoses myself easily enough.  The water supply…well, that will keep for now.  But I realized that this washing machine is the one we bought when we moved into the house 18 years ago.  It’s done very well by us!
  3. Speaking of fixing things, I finished my bike repair class last night.  What a great class!  I can now change tires, replace brake and derailleur cables, and even disassemble and rebuild wheel hubs!  If you have a bike in the Delaware Valley, I highly recommend taking this class and/or checking out Bike Church at the Neighborhood Bike Works.  What a great resource!
  4. I broke my toe.  Yes, on the same foot.  I think it’s cursed.  Not much to do about this one, though, except wait it out.  Which means no running.  Considering the state of the roads, that isn’t as much of a hardship as it was this summer.
  5. I’ve been watching way too much Great British Bake Off.  This is a bad thing.  I’ve put on an additional 3 pounds.  There may be eclairs in the near future.  There will definitely be a blog post.
  6. The payment deadline for Hero’s trip is getting closer.  GAH!!!  In a fit of panic, I started a fundraising campaign on RallyUp to help raise money for those last payments.  If you’re one of the few people who I haven’t force-fed this campaign, please go and check it out, and donate if you can or just share it on social media if you can’t.  We’re about a third of the way to our goal with 6 weeks until the final payments.  In the meantime, she’s selling frozen pizzas and will be working the next few months on making and selling hoagies at school.  She’s had to give up art club for the foreseeable future to do it, but I think/hope this drives home that you need to sacrifice sometimes to get the things you want.  Growing up is hard, yo.
  7. We’re getting ready for a houseguest from Germany next week.  Morgan’s boyfriend is coming over so the two of them can go to a convention in NYC next weekend.  Not only will it be the first time we’ve met him, it will be the first time he and Morgan will meet in person.  I’m both nervous and excited for Morgan, and want to do what I can to help make a good impression on his behalf.  So this week we are cleaning the house within an inch of its life.  And trying not to think about what young men in love are thinking about.  Having your kids grow up is hard, yo.
  8. I have the beginnings of a new book poking at me.  Shh, we don’t want to scare it.
I think that’s it for now.  Updates as they arise!

Working for a Living

Working for a Living

I spent a lot of time around the new year driving all over and planning a New Year’s post for the blog.  I was going to talk about years of learning and years of doing, and how I thought 2016 was going to be a year of doing.  How I was taking the bike repair class and a photography class, the camping trips I planned and the bike rides and the races.

Then my life got totally turned on its head, and I’m still reeling from it.

I work for a company that does a lot of government contract work in the healthcare industry.  The peril of that is that you’re rather at the whims of the government.  Every time there’s a threat of a government shutdown or budget battle, we all hold our breaths a little bit.  Unfortunately, sometimes the government can be even more whimsical than anticipated.  Tuesday we found out just how much so.  The contract we’ve been working under for the past 5 years not only wasn’t being extended, it wasn’t even going to be rebid in the immediate future.  They loved our work and rely on us to help in preparing for the new request for proposal, but effectively our jobs were done, as of…immediately.

I sat in that meeting trying really hard to keep it together.  I must have been white as a sheet, and my stomach was in knots.  As a solo income, if I lost my job, we were basically done.  Unemployment wouldn’t cover the mortgage, let alone all the rest of the bills.

Fortunately, our managers weren’t done.  The VP of my group was in that meeting, as was the head of HR.  the VP insisted that they valued us too highly to lose us, and so had been working since before Christmas to find us other jobs in the company at our current salaries.  Which was amazingly generous of them, and one more reason I really love working for this company.  Unfortunately, they were still working out the details, so it would be a few days before they could tell us what our new jobs would be.  So I came out of the meeting still nauseous, but at least comfortable in the fact that I’d still have a paycheck.

Of course, then the washing machine broke, the cell phone debacle went down, and possibly the freezer stopped working.  Still not sure about that last one.

Yesterday, I found out about my new position.  I’m going to be a writer/database person in a different group in the company.  Which is exciting, as it’s a new position, so I’ll get to help shape it as I’m learning it.  But I’ll be on a different floor, so I won’t be seeing the same people I’ve been working with for the last 6 years, which is kind of overwhelming to this introvert.  Since I didn’t interview for this position, I don’t even know my manager or the leadership team.  I looked at the pictorial directory of the company, and I only recognize the faces of two or three of the other team members.  And so many of them are YOUNG.  Oy.  But it will be good.  They’re excited to have me, and I think there will be more room for me to advance there than there are in my current position.  I don’t have a medical or science background, which the current group requires but I suspect the new group will be more flexible about.  And with a little luck (and my usual stellar work ethic!), when the time comes to move to Maine, I may be able to take the job with me.

But right now, I’m still in freak out mode.  I’m writing this as I wait for my first meeting with the new team, and then the fast descent into the new position.  Supposedly I’m starting to train for it this afternoon, but I don’t know any details.  I’ve packed up most of my cubicle, so I’m ready to go at a moment’s notice.  As soon as I know where I’m moving to.

God, no wonder I’ve been comfort eating like a mad woman this week.  Hide the donuts!

No, is too much…

No, is too much…

Well, that was a wild two weeks.  Sorry for the long radio silence.  But the grocery shopping is done, dinner is in the crockpot, and I can now sit down and focus on writing many blog posts to bring everyone up to date.

But as the title implies, let me sum up some of it.

The new job kicked off with much more of a bang than I’d expected.  We have a huge deliverable come in three weeks ago that’s due at the end of September which requires a LOT of new documentation, so I’m pretty much still doing the work I was doing in the old job, just in the new group.  Which is fine.  I know this stuff in and out, and can crank it through and out to the writers pretty quickly.  It just means I won’t be doing much if any writing until October.  Honestly, I think the only reason I got to go on my vacation is because I had planned it ahead of getting the new job.  Otherwise I think it wouldn’t have been allowed.  Which is fine.  Needs must and all.  But you’d better believe I’m booking next year’s trip way in advance, too!

All of this was interspersed with getting ready for the big trip.  It’s a lot easier now that I’ve got all the camping gear organized so I’m not trying to pull stuff together from all over the house.  I did finally start building a permanent checklist, though.  When I was a kid, my mom had this mimeographed camping list that had everything on it that needed to go with us on every trip.  A part of me has been a bit resentful that she didn’t pass a copy of it down to me!  But now that I’m getting more serious about camping, I decided it was time to start building my own.  Off to Google Drive!  I now have a four page checklist, one that’s all the gear, one that’s everyone’s clothing and personals, one that’s specifically for going to the cabin in the winter, and one for menu planning and food packing.  Everything needs tweaking, but at least I’ve got it started.  And when my kids go off on their first solo camping adventures, they’ll get a binder with pockets to keep info on all the campgrounds they go to and copies of all these checklists.

Realizing I could take the back seats out of the car to pack for these trips has been the best thing ever.  I can Tetris a packing job pretty well, but this has given me a lot of freedom to not be as careful.  Even so, I still have no problem seeing out the back now, even with the bikes on.  This trip I experimented with putting our clothes in flip top boxes to make packing easier and help keep things dry.  After the last trip, dry has become important to me, although my success rate is mixed.  But more on that in another post.  So by Thursday night, we had all the clothes packed, all the gear dragged down to the living room, the seats out of the van and I’d started loading the food totes.  Friday was the last minute scrambles and getting everything but the cooler and the bikes loaded.  The kids have gotten really good at helping me with loading and unloading (as long as I don’t make Xander and Morgan work together), so we got it all done in about 45 minutes.  Then it was just a matter of packing up all my knitting projects and loading my ereader and getting a decent night’s sleep.

Last night…

Last night…

was my last night at the Y.

It was…well, frankly, it was bloody busy.  and annoying.  But some of my favorite people to work with were there, so it was good to see them, and I got to meet the girl who is replacing me, who was really interesting and I would have loved to get to know her better.  We had a killer thunderstorm sweep through and lost power for about 5 seconds, which was enough to have everyone on edge for the rest of the evening, so that was kind of fun, too.

And then it was over.  And I went home.  Just like any other Wednesday night.

I thought I’d feel more elated.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to miss the manipulative members trying to squeeze every last drop of blood they can out of a service non-profit.  But the Y has been part of my life for the last three years.  Yes, I’ll still be a member, and yes, my kids and I will still be going (especially after the renovations are done), but it’s different when you aren’t behind the scenes.  Not part of the family any more.  It’s…well, it’s kind of sad.  Bittersweet.

It probably won’t sink in that I don’t work there anymore until Saturday when I wake up at 7:30 and start getting ready to go to work before I remember I don’t have to.

But at least then I’ll be ready to go to the Farmer’s Market for the first time in three years…

A Door Opens

A Door Opens

Life is made up of big changes and small ones.

This one could be either.

My new position is finally official.  I transfer into it next Wednesday.  It’s not a big raise, but it’s a raise, enough for me to be able to quit the second job.

I’m not sure if you understand what a big deal this is.

For three years, I have worked every day of the week.  The only way to get time off was to find people willing to cover a 7 hour shift on Saturday and a 4 hour shift on Sunday.  Or to go into the hospital.  Which meant no spur of the moment trips, no “Let’s do something this weekend”, no nothing.  And that’s fine.  You do what you have to to take care of your family.  But what it meant, at the heart of it, was that I *wasn’t* there.  I know there are experiences that I would have wanted Morgan to have that I couldn’t give him, skills I wanted to make sure he learned that he didn’t, because I had to scrape for money.  I’ll never be able to make that up to him, although I’ll try in the little time he’s still at home.  And I’ll make damn sure the other two have them, knowing from experience that Morgan will be hurt that he didn’t have the same opportunities.

Putting aside the opportunities this is going to bring me (training, certification, work experience, promotions), this is going to make a major change in all our lives.

Which is kind of overwhelming. And a little bit scary.  There’s a voice niggling at the back of my brain saying, “Don’t fuck this up.  You fuck this up and you’re out on the street, and then what will happen to those kids?  They’re counting on you and you know how you are.  Don’t fuckin’ fuck this up!”

I hate that voice.

I gave my notice at the Y last night.  We’ll see if they keep me on as a sub.  My manager hemmed and hawed, but I don’t care.  I can afford to keep the membership even if I have to pay for it myself.  I didn’t burn any bridges, but one of the lifeguards who also gave her notice and I had a moment of “Hallelujah we’re free!”  It’ll be good.  It’s the right choice.

And I’ve already made plans for my first weekend of freedom.

 

World Cup (or Plate!)

World Cup (or Plate!)

I love the people I work with.   In our broader group, we have a lot of creative people with a lot of different backgrounds and interests.  You wouldn’t know it walking through our area, as all the cubes are dull gray and the whole place is silent.  But you’re dealing with librarians and writers, so quiet is the name of the game.

But when we party, ti’s always a good one!

We do theme food events a couple of times a year.  Every winter holiday season we have a baking contest, each year with a different challenge from pies to cupcakes to cookies.  At Super Bowl time, we have the Souper Bowl, where folks brings in a different kind of soup for everyone to sample.  We have a Phillies opening day picnic.  And this year, one of our brilliant folks came up with the idea for a World Cup potluck.  When the sign-up sheet went out, each line had a different country, and you chose which country you wanted to bring food from.  Of course the easy ones went fast, so by the time I got to it, I had to actually think and research.

What I ended up with was Portugal.  I found an interesting, supposedly very authentic recipe for vina dosh on Allrecipes.com.  Vina dosh is a traditional Portuguese pork recipe.  You marinate the pork in red wine, vinegar, garlic, bay and cloves for 2-4 days and then bake it and fry it.  Sounded good to me!

vina dosh 1

So on Sunday I chopped up a 3 lb. pork roast and dropped it in the bag with a couple of bay leaves and 8 cloves that I had to pick out of my jar of pickling spice, since I only had three whole cloves left.  Then I mixed up the liquids and all that garlic and dumped that in as well.

vina dosh 2

Yummy, right?  That went into the fridge to get a massage and turn every morning and evening until last night.  I had the oven on anyway to make quiche (another recipe to come later), so I drained the meat dumped it into a baking dish and in the oven for the requisite 20 minutes.  It came out just before the quiche did.  Perfect.  It looked good enough to eat then, but I still had to fry it.  I say fry, but it’s fried in a way I’ve never heard of.  You have the pan on medium low, and fry it in batches for 10-15 minutes.  Very interesting.  But it looked good.

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For all of that, I had expected it to be a bit more succulent.  It’s not dry, but it’s certainly not like fried chicken.  More of a shish kebob texture, I guess.  The wine flavor is very overpowering, but as I’ve never had the original, I don’t have a comparison.  Which is not to say it’s bad, just not what I was expecting.

The potluck is this afternoon, so I’ll report back on its reception and all the other international goodies!

(Oh, and for anyone who cares, Portugal lost their first match against Germany, play the US tomorrow and Ghana next Thursday to determine if they move on.)

I guess I really am a writer after all

I guess I really am a writer after all

I forget sometimes.

It’s hard even in the best of times to carve out time for writing.  I’m not someone who can write at home.  There’s too much to distract me here, the kids and the animals, the things I want to be doing, the things I should be doing.  And the last few years have been far from the best of times.  Most days it’s been all I could do to cling to sanity.  Creativity, let alone the time to actually write, has been an impossibly faded but well-loved dream.  It’s why it took me so long to get this blog going.  As much as I wanted to do it, I just didn’t have the wherewithal to make it happen.

But a couple of things going on recently are serving to remind me.

A job posting went up at work a couple of months ago.  For an entry level medical writer.  I didn’t have the academic background (no life science degree), but all the rest I knew I had, with the added benefit of knowing all of the processes and systems the writer would use (my current position is a step in that process).  So I applied, not even sure if they would consider me without the qualifications.  But they did.  Fortunately for me, the senior hiring manager is actually my career mentor, and I had talked to her back before Christmas about what possibilities for advancement there were for me in the company, so she already knew where my head was at.  I’m not sure if it was that or my own sparkling personality, but they let me do the writing tests.  And I did well enough on those that they actually interviewed me.  All in all, a very validating experience, and I knew even if I didn’t get the job, I had enough confidence that I would apply again, and again, until I did.

I didn’t get the job.

But.

They really liked my writing, and didn’t want to lose me.  So they found a way to hybridize my current job to let me do writing and develop my skills and certifications so that when the next position comes along, they can justify hiring me.  Let me tell you, that feels pretty damn good.  No, I won’t be getting paid as much as I would have as a full time writer, but I am going to get paid more, enough to be able to quit my second job, which really was all I’d wanted in the first place.  And my association membership and training classes will come out of the professional development budget instead of out of my own pocket, so double bonus.  So I will once again be a professional writer.

The second thing was more recent and if anything a bit more out of the blue.

Nikki and I have a couple of novellas out with Liquid Silver Books.  There was a series a couple of years ago all of fireman inspired novellas that were paired up and released together in one book.  Now they want to reissue each novella individually, and they need new contracts.  So the senior editor was in touch and got me my new contracts, but I realized it had been so long since I’d had a contract with them that they didn’t know I’d gone back to using my maiden name.  When I let her know, I joked that I needed to make up for that by getting her something new.  “Oh, that would be great!  I’d love something new from you!”  Well, consider me gobsmacked.  To be honest, I didn’t think they would care.  My bestseller (over 1,000 copies) came out from them, but everything since has had pretty lackluster sales, including the magical (literally) threesome series that Nikki and I adore most ferociously.  Our main editor had moved on to other pastures, so I didn’t think we were still even on their radar.  To find out that I was was pretty damn good for the ego, I’ll admit.  “Well, I do have a contemporary, medical, biracial threesome in revisions now, if that was something you’d want.”  She wants!  And not only that, I can sidestep the regular submission process and send it straight to her!  So now I have two weeks to get this book done that I’ve been struggling with for like five years, the last 2-3 of which have just been because I was so sick of it I hated it.  But suddenly, I don’t hate it so much.

So, yeah.  I really am a writer.  I love doing it (even when I don’t love it at all), and now I’m going to get paid to do it, and talk about doing it, which means writing more, which will encourage even more writing.  Writing begets writing, which was what I’d hoped when I committed to doing this blog regularly.

Guess it worked!