The List

Everyday Adventures

One day last week, on my lunch break, feeling a bit frustrated and exhausted by work and life in general, I made a list:

Things I’d Like to do Again

I wrote down whatever came to mind, everything from having confidence in my work (it was a low day, remember) to blogging regularly, to specific craft projects. Getting it down on paper felt good, it helped me see what had been overshadowed these last couple of months by work and work and trying to de-stress from said work.

As an aside, I now know exactly what kind of days Todd routinely has, days when he doesn’t have time to stop for lunch until the late afternoon (if at all), days when all you’re good for when you get home is to veg in front of the tv for an hour before falling into bed. Not all my days are like that, but enough have been that I get it, now. 

 Now, a list like this could stand on it’s own, being looked at from time to time, wistfully wishing I could go back to having time and energy for these things.

Then I reminded myself that, hello, I’m the one living this life and it’s up to me to make what I want happen, right?! Right.

So, on the facing page I made a companion list:

Ways I Can Make That Happen

And for each item on the first list I gave myself some instructions.

Want to blog regularly? I can either stockpile posts on the weekends or tap out some quicker posts on evenings and weekends. I’ve been working on this one and I hope the shorter, but daily, posts are enjoyable. I feel a bit stiff, still, but I’m hoping that as I keep doing it, it will feel a bit more natural.

Some goals might take a bit more time to get to–taking a vacation, throwing a party, etc.–but they got the simple, “do it” treatment just the same. Whether it’s planning and saving for it, on the list it went.

And what about the work confidence? Work hard, learn more, be patient.

I give pretty good advice to myself. Now to just take it.

Tonight we’re satisfying one of my more frivolous wishes: having chocolate cake for dinner.  I mean, really, why not, right? One of the perks of being a grown up is indulging flights of fancy. I warned Todd it might happen and even put it on the menu. The only real question still to be decided is whether I make the cake myself or I swing by Publix and pick one up on the way home. It depends on how long I’m at The Fuzzy Goat this evening, probably, but those Publix cakes really are very tasty. And already made. No oven required.

Currently the list stands at 13 lines, I suppose I could add more if other ideas present themselves. Have you ever thought about what you’re missing or have put aside that you really want back? And, more importantly, have you ever thought about how you can go about making it happen?


The Exhaustion at the End of This Job

Everyday Adventures

Each day when I get home I’m exhausted. Wiped out. Wanting nothing more than quiet and maybe an early bedtime.

I don’t get that, of course, because Duncan needs to go out and I have projects to work on and I really need to be putting the word out about my availability for freelance projects and putting in resumes for jobs. I have other things I want to do, fun things like sewing some tunics for myself from my fabric stash, creating some art, or just enjoying a book.

Why am I so tired? It’s work that’s doing it, sure, but why?

Let’s take a moment to recall that I’m only working 4 days a week instead of 5. And that those days usually end around 3pm (occasionally I’ll be in the middle of something and stay until 4pm, but that hasn’t happened in a while). And while there were a few days where I was clearing out filing cabinets or moving boxes, most days are spent at my desk, clearing up a myriad of clerical loose ends.

Yesterday, for instance, I spent the majority of the day trying to set up online access to the remaining 10 vendors (things like utilities, phones, insurance, etc.). This would not normally be a big deal but things get weird when you’re dealing with business accounts and the various hoops some companies make you go through to be able to see your bills online, much less pay them. AT&T is being the biggest pain, and there’s a weird workaround I have to use for the city utilities because we have 3 accounts and only 2 of them have metered services and, therefore, are fully accessible online.

Minutia is the meat of my day.

I was talking to my friend and accountability partner of the last several (five?) years about this on Tuesday and she, bless her, understood completely. She said that she’d been with companies during shutdowns before and the transition period can definitely be emotionally exhausting. That made me feel less ridiculous and a bit reassured. Validated, even.

And then something in my head clicked:

The business is in Hospice and I’m experiencing a form of caregiver fatigue.

Am I being overly dramatic? I really don’t think so!

I mean, let’s look at it. I’ve known the company was in decline better than most and longer than everyone but the owner–generating the financial reports month after month, there was no way to avoid the truth of what was going on. The blood (cash) flows slower, the memories (clients) aren’t as clear as they used to be.

When the announcement came that we’d be closing at the end of April, that was basically a DNR. There was nothing else to be done, time to put your affairs in order. We notified our clients and vendors. The equipment was put up for sale. We started saying goodbye.

We settled into the hospice period with a skeleton crew of three, doing what needed doing as each day saw the rooms empty little by little. And we wait.

It’s an active waiting, or it has been so far. But like a patient that rallies for a time before resuming the decline, the activity is tapering off and those that are left are in a holding pattern.

Life goes on outside the patient’s room, plans are tentatively made, but everything seems to hinge on when that final breath and the uncertainty of when it will be.

Why don’t I walk away? Leave the room, step into the sunshine, clear my head, and get on with the rest of my life?

For the same reason those sitting at a patient’s bedside for weeks on end doesn’t: a sense of responsibility. There’s still a job to be done and you honor the life that is almost over by bearing witness to it. You do what needs to be done.

I’m not trying to say I’m some sort of saint for this. No, it’s a job and I’m getting paid for it. I’m not completely altruistic. But I am also the person who knows where the files go, how the system operates, and the best one to help see it through. 22 years is a long time to spend somewhere and to just walk away like it’s nothing?

That’s not how I’m wired.

Realizing the parallel between the closing of a business and the slow decline of a person is helpful, though. It gives me a frame of reference and makes sense of the otherwise inexplicable exhaustion. The situation isn’t without a dose of anxiety, either, but at least that was a tab bit more transparent in its source (seriously, I have no idea what next month is going to look like, job-wise, so, yeah).

Old, bad behaviors are surfacing due to the anxiety and the fatigue means I’m not exactly at my strongest, willpower-wise. My eating habits are ridiculous right now (I have little desire for “real food” preferring more than usual the fried, the sweet, and carby) and I constantly want to go shopping (it’s a sad twist that worry over finances triggers my desire for retail therapy).

That’s still in line with caregiver fatigue, as they spend all their time and energy caring for the dying and neglect their own living being. So now that I know what’s going on, I can work with it, around it, and through it. And I can do a better job of taking care of myself, too.

What’s The Date Again?

Everyday Adventures

It’s one of those weeks, you know? The calendar says it’s Thursday, but it feels like a Wednesday, even though today is my Friday–and yes, I realize how confusing that sounds!

I had a full 4-day weekend thanks to the fact that we don’t work on Fridays anymore (a perk? of the business being in shut-down mode). But having Monday off means this was only a 3 day work week, so I’m completely discombobulated.

I know, I know, cry me a river, right?

The Fridays off thing sounds fabulous, and it is, but I admit I had a hard time adjusting to it this past month. I’m so used to taking a day off for a certain purpose–travel, appointments, party prep, etc.) that having a weekday off for no reason threw me for a bit of a loop. The first week I believe Duncan and I chilled on the couch for a few hours catching up on NCIS New Orleans before finally heading into the Abyss to be semi-productive. The weeks after that were a little better to the point that I’ve gotten into a bit of a rhythm for my Fridays.

  • Catch up on the RSS feeds
  • Check Craigslist and Indeed for new job listings, apply if anything promising appears (it’s been slim, lately)
  • Edit videos and/or film a new video
  • Blog if I’ve got a post in mind

So that’s my new normal, though it still feels very weird.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining–far from it! I’m acutely aware how lucky I am to a) still be employed, b) have a rather flexible schedule, and c) have extra time off during the week to work on my own projects. Being a creature of habit, though, it’s a little tough sometimes to be so go with the flow. And next week? Next week we might not even work at all! (I’ll find out later today if that’s the case or not.)

Again, I hear you, don’t complain over an impromptu 10-day staycation, right? Right! Half of me is overjoyed at the prospect, half of me is frantically trying to come up with a plan so as not to waste said week of opportunity, and a sliver of me is dreading being at home, alone with just the dog for company, for a solid week. I may have to take an afternoon down at Grassroots or something just to keep my sanity in check.

Duncan’s doing pretty good, by the way, but the barking is still a bit out of control. At night he’s down to maybe a 5 minute token protest before settling down to sleep, but when we crate him to leave the house, or even to leave the room (crated or not), the barking is large and wanting to be in charge. The trainer is coming back on Sunday for our follow-up and we’ll discuss options then. Duncan also has his first vet visit on Friday–wish us luck on that!

Oh, but at least as of yesterday I’m once again insured–we had a month gap in health insurance thanks to being misinformed about deadlines, but I managed to avoid calamity for the month of May and I have a shiny new insurance card just in time for my next prescription pick-up. I’ll be very happy NOT to have to pay the $72 (for 3 months of bc pills) the reminder email listed as due. Whew!

That’s been our scrambled week so far, how’s yours been?

The Universe Has a Sick Sense of Humor

Everyday Adventures

I’m not a fan of April Fool’s Day. I like to think I have a decent sense of humor, but I don’t like practical jokes in general. Maybe it’s fallout from being teased as a kid, maybe it goes hand-in-hand with my dislike of pushing people’s buttons to get a rise. Maybe I just hate the embarrassment that comes from being taken-in. At any rate, not a fan of the day or the shenanigans (though, okay, I did participate in one small bit of subterfuge today on the Helmar blog, but that was by request and, hopefully, not harmful to anyone).

The last two weeks, though, have been like one long, surreal, joke. One of truly questionable humor.

Most things have been small annoyances. My phone is glitchier than normal (I never named it, but it’s begging to be called Vanellope from here on out) but it’ll have to hang in there for a while longer. The freezer has started this *really neat trick* of popping open just a smidgen when you close the refrigerator door. Not every time, that would be too predictable, but it’s resulted in a couple of mornings coming downstairs to melting this or that. This very site has gone down twice in the last week due to issues with the cache something or other and attempts to get an answer as to why keep leading me in a Sisyphean loop (though I think I might finally be getting somewhere, maybe, I hope).

But no, the real fun began on the 22nd, when the boss announced that we were closing in a little over a month (that would be the news I mentioned a few times in the last post).

Now, on it’s own, that’s not a joke, it’s just bad. And as the bookkeeper I was all too aware that it was a possibility if things didn’t change. Change was being sought, we’d pulled out of slumps before and survived the economic downturn/great recession where other shops did not. To go from high possibility to startling reality, well, that took a little getting used to.

The joke comes with a bit of a history lesson.

4 years ago… things happened. What and why and by who aren’t really important, water under the bridge for the most part and all, but I almost gave my notice. I didn’t (obviously), but I realized that I didn’t want to be here forever. I was, at the time, 36 and had been with the same employer for all of my adult life.* I had never set out to become a bookkeeper, it just turned out to be something I was good at. But I’m good at other things, too, and so I set a goal for myself that I’d be at least 50% self-employed by the time I turned 40.

Our last official day open is 4/29. My 40th birthday is 4/30.


Of course it’s not quite so cut and dried. While the company will be closed for business there are still a lot of loose ends to tie up and, since I’m the one that handles the paperwork, I’ll be around for a few months after that. The boss and I’ll be roaming the ghostly halls as we basically dismantle the company piece by piece. While I’m grateful for the slightly extended stay of unemployment, it’s a weird sort of limbo to be in, too. And if I find a new position before it’s all done I’ll be doing both for a while.

Everyone’s taking it as well as can be expected (well, almost everyone, but that’s not a story for today). It’s weird to know that certain tasks or projects you’re working on for the last time. The end may be nigh, but we’ve still got jobs to do, and most of us are getting on with getting on.

What will I do come August? Still very much up in the air.

Part of me says take this time to cultivate more freelance clients, really invest in the blog and products that I already have, and embrace self-employment. That part of me conveniently ignores the bills that I pay every month, says the other part of me, and urges to get a job, any job, maybe two jobs if necessary.

It’s very house-divided in my head these days.

Chances are it’ll be some combination of the two. I’m looking for another full-time position while also creating contingency plans if nothing pans out or it takes longer than expected to find the right fit. Todd and I have talked about how we’ll handle the finances should I end up on unemployment (which would only be about half my take-home pay, max) or worse. It’ll work out how it needs to, things just might be tight for a while. But we’ll get through it.

The moral of the story is: be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

*I’ve worked here since the week after high school graduation, minus a 5 month leave of absence to finish my Culinary degree in 2000, coming back because my replacement didn’t work out and I have this pesky need to be able to pay my bills. All of them. In the same month, even. I know, quirky, right?

Not much for a Monday

Everyday Adventures

Work was… work. Not horrible, but it certainly didn’t fly by, either. Got a fair amount done, so all’s well. Of course, I was a leetle brain-dead at first when I spent however long trying to figure out what was missing on a bank rec, rechecking all the deposits and checks only to finally realize I hadn’t reset the beginning values on the form. Dur.

Once home, all I had to do was pencil this week’s strips. Distracted much? Yes, thank you. I think I should pay more attention to how much detail I’m expecting from each of the week’s strips to avoid what happened tonight: 3 days, 6 panels each, almost all fairly detailed. Oops! And it’s not that it’s incredibly difficult (a few were tedious from a perspective point of view–ba dum bump!) it’s just I was not totally on-task. Still, at this writing I’ve got two of the three days penciled and the third decently begun. Won’t have any trouble getting Wednesday’s ready for a timely update but it remains to be seen whether they all get inked tomorrow night or if they spill over into Wednesday. I hope not since I’ve got articles to finish up, but it will all get done, it always does.

Going to throw another 30 minutes at it before bed and see how far I can get.

oh! My girl didn’t win on Legally Blonde the Musical: Search for the Next Elle Woods. I was really pulling for the other girl, but, oh well. I’ve no doubt someone else will snap her up for something now that the show has finished.