It’s in the can

The first real week of the new job, that is. I found it extraordinarily frustrating. I spent many years doing the same work and now, at the ripe old age of 45, I have changed track, albeit just slightly. I’m still in IT but my role is definitely not that of a sysadmin. I am still not entirely sure what’s expected of me – we had a massive emergency crop up on Wednesday that kept the team on their toes for the rest of the week. It could have been really bad but instead I got a chance to see them in action and I must say I am more than impressed. They churned and burned and did a massive amount of work (work that should not have been necessary) in a short period of time, despite an obvious lack of appreciation from some quarters.

I had scheduled a sit-down with the people above me and lay out what is expected of me both in a day to day sort of manner and what they would like to see changed. I want a feel for where they see the priorities so I know where to put my focus. That meeting got delayed in favor of all-hands-on-deck, though, and then I was sort of bowled over by all of the other things that kept cropping up. It seems that purchasing computers and peripherals for the campus is one of my duties. This is a process that lacks a process, so to speak. There is no documentation, there is no real supply of spares or of equipment that can be transferred from our cost center to another. The lack of a process means that I am juggling requests and quotes, trying to prioritize, and spending far more time than I should on the whole thing. I can see that I am looking at purchasing taking at least half of my time until it’s all fixed, and that might take months. And it’s such a hot mess now, it’s hard to know where to start.

The next couple weeks will be dedicated to a major, campus-wide project and the answers to what is expected of me and how I am to organize and prioritize will not be answered until after that. Meanwhile I will become more and more lost. The campus has not been notified of the changes that have been made so things that should go to me go to the person I replaced, which is itself causing problems. I don’t know why that piece was forgotten but it is yet another bit of this experience that is frustrating me and making things harder than they have to be.

But I was told by one of the members of my new team that he was impressed with something I did. I got another team member to smile and talk about something other than the things that make her angry. I met some new people, shook hands with them, made them laugh (or at least smile). These tiny blessings make the struggle almost worth it. They make me believe that I can  do this, that I will  do this.

Plus, I put an owl on it, and called it art. Just saying.

Meanwhile, on the home front, our newest family member Bunny Foofoo is settling in to a life of overturning his litter box at 2 AM and harassing Noel, the kitty. One of the old, copper pipes that feed the upstairs bathroom burst and caused my sweet Wayne all sorts of stress and heartache (I am so glad he’s a worker and just jumped right in and started fixing things). The pipe has altered our remodeling timeline and we are both list makers and planners so timeline altering is not something either of us likes. This, too, shall pass though. As does everything else.

I’ve started knitting a baby afghan for Baby Girl C, Wayne’s second granddaughter. I’m so excited about the idea of a wee baby girl. Her mom-to-be just found out this week that she is, indeed, a girl (we sort of figured that she would be, considering that her mom is one of five sisters and her only cousin is a girl). It’s the only yarn-like thing I’m working on because it’s insanely hot and all I want to do is drink wine spritzers and read Chick Lit. Everything else will be hibernating for now, and I am cool with that. It’s a phase, and it will also pass. 🙂

Book wise, besides the aforementioned Chick Lit, I accidentally stumbled across some not bad good books recently:

  • If I Stay by Gayle Foreman (YA) A girl is in a car with her family when they’re in a terrible accident. She has to decide if she’s going to stay (i.e., live). It was quite readable and may have made me cry, a little bit.
  • Let’s Be Frank by Brea Brown (Chick Lit) The male protagonist, Nate, a nurse in a pediatrics practice and a lover of well-crafted chick lit, poses as an author named Frank at the behest of his domineering girlfriend. She wants to publish books as a man and finds Nate to have the perfect look. It’s very well-written and funny.
  • The Not So Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard by Robert Bryndza (Chick Lit) British author Coco Pinchard is a hot mess and I want to go out for a beer with her. She makes every mistake under the sun and makes you want nothing to be on the receiving end of one of her emails. Brit-chick-lit rocks. This one made me laugh out loud more than once and I might read it again,  it was so funny
  • Stray by Andrea K. Host (YA, Touchstone Book 1). This one I’ll be doing a full review on at some point, but as a synopsis: a Australian girl Cassandra Devlin who steps through something akin to a wormhole and finds herself in a strange, new world.

Right now I am reading a time-traveling book that I don’t love but that isn’t too bad. I’m trying to talk myself into spending the money to buy the second and third books in the series the Touchstone series. I guess since the first one was an e-library-book, I’ll buy them on Kindle – that way I won’t stress the imbalance of seeing books 2 and 3 on the bookshelf without a book 1.

Reading what I’ve written, it sounds like I’m insanely busy, especially when you take into account that the new job is demanding that I work a lot more hours than I have been recently. And then I remembered that we are also bike riding regularly, around 60 miles a week most weeks. I’d like to step that up but it’s hot and I can’t seem to get any more hours out of a day. Wayne registered us for this year’s Seagull Century earlier this week, though, so I have to ride regularly or I won’t be ready. Maybe I should sleep less, or something.

Until next time….

Startitis and the best of intentions

I saw a little red car the other day with a vanity tag that said “K2TOG” and got all excited; a fellow knitter! For you non-knitters, it means knit 2 together (a way to decrease the number of stitches on your needles). I’m pretty sure I could be her, or possibly but less like his, friend.

On the subject of knitting, I am in the midst of a nasty case of startitis, which can be roughly defined as the nearly overwhelming urge to start something new. I have a self-imposed three project limit. I am seriously considering changing that rule because I really want to start a new project. I’ve got a bad case of startitis.

Right now, I have a dishcloth, a baby blanket for a coworker, and a sleeveless sweater for me active. I did take a side trip into trying out an idea I had for a teddy bear – big fail, his head is so small he looks like he should be in the waiting room scene of “Beetlejuice” – but other than that it’s steady on with the three, all trying to behave and stay within my self-imposed boundaries and whatnot. But then…

A couple weeks before Christmas, my very bright and generally awesome son put in a request for some hand-knit socks. I decided it was an opportunity delivered on a silver platter to learn something new – toe up socks and magic loop! It had been years since I made socks, and then it was cuff down on double points, and it took about a week to make a pair. These socks, though, flew off the needles. And I was mostly winging it because the best circular needles I had for magic loop knitting were size 7, so I used some wonderful sport weight and sort of guessed my way through. And then I called them “slipper socks,” which was a bit of a truth-stretch; they were really “let’s test something new when we only have about 10 days to finish it because that will be super exciting” socks.

Let me tell you, toe up socks and magic loop together is a potent combination of pure awesome and I was hooked, immediately. I was so hooked that I put size 1 Addi sock rockets in our Amazon cart and made sure I still had sock yarn in my stash from way back. Well. The needles came a couple days ago and I desperately want to start a sock. I mean like crazy, like right now, like yesterday. But I have the 3-active-projects rule for a reason.

Ugh.

In an odd coincidental parallel (I believe life is full of these if you just pay attention), the 3-project rule was an intention that I started several years ago. I wasn’t finishing anything I started and I decided that I needed to limit myself so that things would actually come off the needles (or hook, natch) at some point, if only so I could start something new. I’ve stuck to this rule since then but have also eased my startitis by telling myself it only applies to things made from yarn. I occasionally need something new in the midst of the three projects, and I usually turn to sewing for that. Those projects don’t count.

Another intention dates to just last year when I decided to focus on being healthier. To me, that means straightening out my diet, exercising, getting the right amount of sleep, and taking my medications consistently. It worked, in fact it came out better than I expected. I am happier, calmer, more productive, and more self-he. My hair is bright and shiny, my balance has improved, and my general outlook tends toward sunny. Because I know it’s working, this year I added continue being healthier to my list.

Being healthier, though, is shorthand for something so much more. I want to try cutting dairy and eating clean. I am trying to read labels and if something that was a staple has funky crap in it, I am leaving it in the store and figuring out something else. At the same time, I am trying to expand our household diet. We tend to stick to the same things, many of which don’t fit the clean ideal. One thing that’s been on my mind is the idea of working pizza back in. We used to make our own pizzas every other week, sometimes more often, and who doesn’t love a good pizza?

And this is where I hit a brick wall, face-first.

How can pizza be clean and dairy-free? Clean foods are almost unchanged from their original forms. I can do the dough because I can choose decent ingredients that are close to where they started and control what’s in it. I can choose toppings that are close to where they started, like onion and green pepper, mushrooms, homemade sauce, even ground turkey. What I cannot do is find an alternative to dairy cheese that is also clean. The ingredients in dairy-free cheese are nightmarish. And I cannot imagine pizza without some form of cheese. So what do I do?

I think I need to investigate making my own non-dairy mozzarella. It should be an interesting experiment. If I can find all of the ingredients locally, this might be on the menu…

Checking it twice

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans” (John Lennon).

I am a lover of the list. The to-do list, the shopping list, the what I want to knit list, the Christmas card address list…. I surround myself with, and take comfort from, lists. I can, and do, function without them, but my head is full of big things and small things get left by the wayside if they don’t get written down.

One thing I don’t write down, or spend a lot time contemplating, is any sort of “five year plan.” The idea is preposterous to me. Can anyone really plan that far out? The only truly predictable thing about life is its sheer lack of predictability and its tendency towards chaos. Where do I want to be in five years? Happy. I think that is enough of an answer for me.

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable” (Dwight D. Eisenhower).

My plan for today was elastic, yet structured. There are things I want to accomplish on my Monday off. There are errands: I need to pick up several small but lovely and gift-wrappable items, I’d like to bless the local vegetable stand with my largesse, and some gift certificates need to be purchased. There is housework: the bathrooms both need a little love, the broom is lonely, the cobwebs are starting to look like modern art. And always, there is exercise.

Moving was really the only structure I was hoping to have today, and I had it planned by the clock. Get up at 4, like I have to the rest of the week. Do the 4 mile workout video. Shower, dress in some sort of cute bike riding appropriate clothing. Ride to the orthodontist. Ride home. Take the grandbaby to the zoo later and walk around the whole thing, plus go to the park and swing. A day of movement, with occasional other stuff thrown in.

I had a good, reasonable, do-able plan and it felt wonderful.

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans” (Woody Allen).

I’m sure you can guess where this is going. I am not a master of mystery at all, am I?

I woke up to the sound of Wayne brushing his teeth, which meant it was no earlier than 6:15. I laid in bed for a minute, maybe two, trying to make my sleep-addled brain adjust to this changed schedule. And then I remembered that I had to get the bike lock off of his bike before he left so I jumped up and got dressed in the clothes that were laid out for my workout. You may be certain they are not “cute.”

There was a flurry of activity, a cliche that really does suit, and then he was gone, pedaling towards work and I had not enough time for a workout and the nearly overwhelming urge to write. Anything. Something. Everything.

I braided my hair first because I know me. I know I can be expected to not lift my fingers from the keys until I have only five seconds to leave or I will be late. Sometimes I don’t even save myself the five seconds. I made a smoothie and added peanut butter because the extra calories will be good on a ride. I brewed a little coffee and fixed myself a cup (black, with ice). And I sat down before my laptop and realized I had no plan at all about what to write.

And now? It is a minute later than the time I should have been walking out of the door.

See why I need lists?