Work in the Age of Anxiety
Earlier I wrote about getting old and how it seemed to happen without me realizing it. Something else is happening to me. I have a problem with work. I have a good job with benefits and a salary and coworkers that aren’t total asshats. But . . . I find myself unable to do my work most of the time. My mind jumps from place to place. The idea of even getting started on the project I need to work on makes me ill. Every extension is just another excuse to put it off some more.
If I go to the doctor, I’ll be back on the medicine-go-round and I’m not too keen on that. So I have to figure out another way. But the cards are stacked against me. The pulmonologist helpfully told me that asthma makes you anxious and anxiety can trigger asthma, oh yay! So either way I’m screwed. Right now I have nerves hop hop hopping like the freaking Easter Bunny. Yet I’m sitting here. Typing out a blog post. Oh, yes, I can see the exhibit I should be working on, or what crumbs I’ve managed to form together, but I really don’t know what I’m doing on it. At all. The idea of even looking at it fill me with dread. I want to climb up a tree and hide in a hole like, like . . .
I used to have ambition. It’s gone. Did I say this already? It seems like maybe I already posted this. Oh, who the hell cares, here it is again. I think Aussa of Hacker, Ninja, Hooker, Spy said it best. The years of your job are like the years of high school. Observe:
“Year 1 at Your New Job (Freshman): You have great hopes for your future, you take notes, show up everyday and are there on time.
Year 2 at Your Job (Sophomore): While you retain a certain semblance of ambition you’ve learned exactly which corners to cut and how little you have to do in order to get by.
Year 3 at Your God Awful Job (Junior): You’re pretty sure that you’re doing everyone a favor by showing up.
Years 4-40 at the hell hole where you’re probably going to die (Senior): If you can’t find a good enough parking spot, you’re probably going to just go back home and get in bed.”
This is sheer genius here (I’m a senior!) and exactly how I feel about my current job, especially considering how difficult it is to find parking. So I wonder – is this just a depression / anxiety thing or does everyone feel this way? Is it a universal thing, like high school? I mean, it’s not like I have a horrible boss or terrible working conditions or too much of a workload. In fact, I could do with a little more supervised work because I am freaking terrible about it on my own. Just look at my house and you can see how well I did at cleaning once my parents quit telling me to do it.
So I sit here frozen. Well frozen except for typing. Work. I should really do some work. In a minute. Yeah. I’ll look at it in a minute. How many minutes till I go home now? Oh, crap.
So tell me – how many of you like your jobs? How many of you are bored as heck? How many of you have anxiety about work yet feel unable to do anything about it? I know I should feel appreciative that I even have a job, and insurance, and all of that but I find myself freaking out more and more and more and I wonder how much longer I can keep this up. Does anyone else worry about how long they can hang in there?
Let me know in the comments below. You know I’ll be reading them. Otherwise I’d have to be working.
P.S. Help meeeeeeee.
I’m not sure when I got old. For most of my life I’ve been the youngest. I was the little sister. My birthday is in June, so I was the youngest in my class. When I became a teaching assistant in grad school I was the youngest TA at 22. Then when I became a reference assistant at a public library at 25, I was the youngest reference assistant. Later when I started working at another public library, I was one of the youngest employees there as well. When I first got my current job, I was one of the youngest.
Than came Young Alice. I call her Young Alice because she has my name. Which is unfair, because I had it first. Not only that, she has a job that makes way more money than mine makes. While filling in, I decided I really wouldn’t like that job because you get a lot more students expecting you to help them, whereas at the moment I work on the far end of the second floor and no one comes here unless they really, really want to, or more likely, they’re extremely lost. So it’s not like I’m jealous of her position per say. But her age disturbs me.
You see, Young Alice is almost 12 years younger than I am. How is that possible when most of the time I feel like I’m 12, even though my eldest child is almost 14? And these babies are just going to keep coming because I keep getting older while new people continue to be born and get jobs and crap. WTF. This is not the way I ever pictured it. You never picture growing old when you’re young. It’s like, I will be this way FOREVER, yay!
Young Alice is where I was so many years ago. Young, idealistic, full of energy. I realize now why some women get really irritated at younger women. It’s like, will you get older and get jaded with life already? But honestly, I bear Young Alice no ill will. I don’t want to be that age again. I’d like to have that energy and awesome metabolism, sure, but you couldn’t pay me to go back to 26.
I like where I am now, because – dare I say it – I actually have a little wisdom to offer. I offer it to my children, all the time. Know when to hold ’em, I say. Know when to fold ’em. I talk to them about my values, and why I have them, while trying to precariously balance between telling them how I feel and telling them what they should feel. Yet it really is a gift to be able to offer the younger generation some of what you’ve learned. It’s something that some of my former bosses, as bitter as they were, didn’t get because they were busy being jealous of that all revered youth. Youth is fleeting, but intelligence (or dumbness) is not. It’s with you forever, or at least until you start losing your memory and pooping in your pants again. Okay, that wasn’t a great endorsement for growing older.
Sure, there is a lifetime ahead of me of working at a job that – no matter how much it fits me – is going to be long and boring a lot of the time. And eventually I’ll get gray hairs and wrinkles – I think I may have some wrinkles on my forehead though I try not to look too hard. Because then I see the very faint mustache that no one else notices but me. I hope. So far my kids appreciate what I have to offer, though I’m well aware there will come a day when, as my mother has said, I will turn into Cassandra from Greek Mythology. She knew the future, but no one believed her. Welcome to the teenage years.
I am becoming living history. I remember the Oklahoma City bombing and the babies that died. I remember 9/11 and the terror we felt. I remember what it was like to carry two babies inside me. I remember what it was like to be a young mom, poor and half-insane from sleep deprivation. I remember what it was like to fail, to feel hopeless, and to rise back again.
Everything that has happened to me, good and bad, has shaped who I am now. I’ve accomplished a lot. I’ve also made a lot of mistakes – but not nearly enough. Because I’ve been afraid to try. I don’t want my kids to be afraid. I have the power to help them with that. And one day, if I’m lucky, I’ll live long enough to be a grumpy old bag that goes to the library and annoys the crap out of people but gets away with it cause isn’t she sweet? Young Alice may be the one helping me find that elusive book that doesn’t exist cause I just made up.
Till then, there’s a lot of life left to do. Time to get to it. As soon as I’m done watching this youtube video with cats.
Alice’s Decision-Making Flowchart
The other day, I had difficulty making a decision about whether to tough it out at work or take a sick day. I asked for opinions on whether I should self-flagellate myself some more or give self a break. I got many suggestions and some expressions of “if you figure it out, tell me”. Judah had one of the best ones, which is to remember that if what’s guiding your decision is Fear or Guilt, it’s probably not a good thing. Best to go against that, and just say “Grace”.
I said “Grace” a whole freaking lot. Gracegracegracegracefreakingrace. But it did help. I also made up a flowchart. When you see it spelled out, it tends to make things a little bit easier. Observe. (Click to enlarge)
Have you got any pressing decisions to make? Plug it into a flow chart! Unless it’s like whether to leave a burning building or not. Then get the heck out. You might yell “Grace” while you’re doing it, just in case.
Going on in my head right now:
I’ll just check my last blog post really quickly. Oooh, comments, must answer. OMG, she wrote a post on that? Better pop by and check it out or I’ll forget. She referenced someone else. Okay, I’m off to . . .nooooo you are at work. Stop it. This is taking longer than a sec. What are you working on again? Oh, yeah, the exhibit! This is going to be a great exhibit. I love doing these things. Well, parts of them. I can do research forever but eventually I’m going to have to gather it up and make it make sense. I think I’ll look up fashion on Google and see how it compares to fashion at the university for the last century. I’m not sure how humans could actually wear those things. Oh, hey, I got email. I’ll check it really quickly. I got more comments on my post! Wait, that’s my comment. Why are you telling me about my comments, WP, my memory’s not that bad. What was I doing? Oh, right, the exhibit. It’s fine because it’s not due till Spring Break and it’s – crap – Friday is February? Get to work. Okay, so I’ve already got the pages in the yearbooks marked that I want to scan. Hey. Did I mark almost every page of every yearbook? Well, they were all hilarious, er, fascinating pictures and you should include them. I can’t include all of them, there’s not enough room. Narrow it down. Maybe I should just try to scan a few first. Wait, they replaced the scanner software so now after three years I have no idea how to use the scanner. I’ll have to learn how first. Don’t wanna. It’s freaking scary. I guess I could look up the directions for the scanner. The scanner has a facebook page? Woot!
Daily Prompt: Quote Me (My Ode to Revenge)
Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?
I have many favorite quotes, but the one I want to talk about today is by Alfred Hitchcock. “Revenge is sweet and not fattening.”
Revenge. Have you ever wanted revenge? I’m thinking you have, whether or not you have actually taken it. Even Jesus got cheesed off with those moneychangers. That’s totally my favorite part of the Bible. You go, Jesus!
But there are people who want you to be all peaceful and crap. Aren’t they annoying? John Milton said, “He that studieth revenge keepeth his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well.” Yeah, well, bite me, John Milton. I still want it. But the problem with revenge is pulling it off. You gotta be sneaky. Otherwise it could end up biting you. Douglas Horton or possibly Confucious famously said, “While seeking revenge, dig two graves. One for yourself.” These guys were real downers.
By the way, I’m getting these quotes from this site, so for once I’m not making them up. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/revenge.htmlThough they might be, since I’ve already found one quote attributed to two different people. I should probably do more research. Nah.
Revenge is possible! And I’m not talking about George Herbert’s “Living well is the best revenge.” Pfft. No way, I’m talking people that did it and actually got away with it. These people are my heroes. Alfred Hitchcock said, “Revenge is sweet and not fattening.” Damn straight, Alfred. He was not someone to screw around with. Piss him off and suddenly you have freaking birds come after you and peck your eyeballs out. I would have liked to have been buds with Alfred Hitchcock. I bet he could have helped me out a lot with my AliceRage.
What’s bad is when it’s someone you can’t touch, like say a boss. My current boss is really great, and I’m not just sucking up here. She really is a wonderful person. But I’ve had bosses in the past that made this lady look like a real peach.
One in particular was especially bad. Fellow staff members and I had fond names for her, such as “Dead Alien Soul Boss” and “Satan.” She treated most of the staff horribly, but I was her special whipping girl. She really wanted me to quit. I stayed for years. There were various reasons behind this, chief among them a crappy economy and desire to eat, but also that it really would have made her happy for me to leave.
I couldn’t yell at her, or punch her, or stomp on her face, or punch her again and stomp on her face, and fire codes prevented me from setting her on fire. So all I could do was keep showing up, and this seemed to piss her off most of all. She kept trying to find ways to torture me, but the problem was that she was a moron. You have to have brains to properly get revenge on somebody (I guess she wanted revenge on me for being super awesome and, you know, sane). One of her strategies was to never allow me to learn new skills. So while the other people were say, stuck at the desk working, she’d send me out to read shelves. When you read shelves, you’re just checking to make sure the books are in order. There’s really no way to tell if you’re doing anything or not, unless you stand over the person. So I went out there, all by myself, and did nothing but stare at the books while daydreaming about her head exploding.
Besides being mean and stupid, she was insane. No, really, it was a fun guessing game to try to figure out her psychiatric diagnosis. I’m thinking Narcissitic Personality Disorder would have been pretty close. Also you can’t forget “nuts”. She talked to puppets. Not just to rehearse puppet plays, just because. If I ever had to talk to her, and believe me I tried to avoid it, it was like shoving words into a wood chipper. They came back at you completely distorted. Her moods could change from morning to afternoon. One second she was balling you out for breathing and the next she was asking about your day like you were best pals. Freak-ing nuts. It should come as no surprise that her major was Communications.
She tried everything she could to hold me down, to make me appear less than, to hide all my fabulous Alice light under her big fat bushel. And it almost worked. But I finally quit. Fortunately, one of my interviews came through and I got my current job. But I was willing to shovel fast food at that point. She had power over me for so long, and she used her pathetic bit of power to try to push me down. I had done nothing to her. She made my life miserable, and nearly ruined my health. And there was nothing I could do about it.
Yet when I left, I left a hole in that place. I had worked more hours as a part-timer than anyone else. I knew how to do things that no one else knew how to do. I had done all the dirty jobs that no one wanted. So I left, and suddenly, it was the holidays, and everyone took vacation and she had to scramble to fill spots (I heard this from my former coworkers later). Merry freaking Christmas! Also, after I left, others started leaving. One by one, till only a year later almost every employee – many of whom had been there for years and had tons of experience – had left. Now they are left with teens who look at their jobs with the same passion and drive as any burger flipping job. And then one day she ran into my new boss, and my new boss raved about me, and she looked like she had swallowed a cantaloupe. That was sweet, not fattening, I tell you.
But it still would have been nice to have done some face stomping. Have you ever wanted revenge? Did you ever manage to get it? If so, please leave your stories. I’d love to read them
How Do You Blog?
Recently I wrote a post on Canvas on overwhelmation. And I am definitely feeling it now. Pretty soon, they’re going to expect me to go back to work. I’m better, much, much better, but still when I go to the bookstore, I’m good for about ten, fifteen minutes tops before my body says “Holy crap, go home!” So I’m thinking if fifteen minutes is hard, eight hours might be slightly harder. There is also the process of working out sick leave (like not having any) and if I qualify for something called sick leave pool, the logistics of which probably inspired the book Catch-22.
So I was
thinking stressing on this and Thing Two started coughing. And then running fever. And I said, “Oh, crap.” (I say this a lot.) I guess I was just hoping the powers that be or whatever would give me say enough time to quit being sick myself before striking a kid. Yeah, not so much. Even better, she has the ability to go from lying still (freaky for this kid) to bouncing about while chattering non-stop until my brains threaten to explode within minutes.
So this, and work, and sick, and laundry, and whatever the hell else I’m supposed to be doing has not made it any easier to sleep at night. Well, that and sleeping during the day, which you get used to when you feel too crappy to do anything else, and then it’s hard to break the cycle. So since I can’t sleep, I get up and write. And then it occurs to me (and look we’re getting to the supposed point of this post) that maybe I should try to set some sort of boundaries on my blogging. Boundaries I’d like to set other places, like work (not so many hours) or parenting (not so many hours) or laundry (Why are there so many clothes and where the frack are the socks?)
Thing is, I love feedback. Love, love, love it. I am extremely susceptible to compliments. I feed on good press, and then I’m compelled to do more, more, more! But then I lie awake at night and along with everything else think – am I doing too much posting? Am I annoying? Am I pressable? What if I write something and they think I’m not funny? You know, like Sinatra when his voice started going but he kept singing and no one wanted to tell him to shut up? Wait, I forgot what point I was trying to make here.
Oh, yeah, insecurity. I has it. And night time is a great time to think about this. Which is why insomnia really sucks, unless you are just dying to catch up on infomercials. Like this one for this leaf blower that is apparently more awesome than Jesus. Maybe it’s powered by Jesus. Or possibly the people in the commercial are on drugs. They are very, very happy about this leaf blower. And after a while, I’m thinking, I should get that leaf blower. Then I too could blow away spider webs with the force of a helicopter taking off.
Anyway, I’m hoping to get my sleep cycles out of “infant” and back to “semi-adult”. But even when I do, I still have to decide how to balance my life. Get it? Balance. Hahahaha. As if mothers, whether SAHMS or working moms, can ever balance their lives. I mean, unless they’re like Ann Romney and have servants and crap. But I should probably try to balance the blogging. So here’s the question. How do you blog? Do you blog every day? Once a week? Twice a week? Randomly? Do you keep a schedule? Do you remember where your children are, or who they are? Have you bathed lately, because I can smell you from here, I’m just sayin’.
I’d appreciate the feedback on this, because I’m trying to figure out some way to balance at least one tiny part of my life but I’m unsure how to do it. I mean, I realize it’s up to me, but I’ve got Sinatra complex, and also ideas running about my head like mad, which makes it hard to make any decision, including what I’m going to have for supper. So tell me how you blog, and how you came to that decision, and how long you’ve been doing it, and how you paid off those WordPress people in order to get pressed. I really want to know. And then maybe I can figure out how I blog as well.
Also, wtf with the jerky-I’m-gonna-take-my-sweet-time crap going on while writing and editing your posts on WordPress lately? Huh? It’s annoying.