Angels and Demon Coworkers

Forgive me, Internet, for I have sinned. It’s been 19 days since my last post.

It’s just that I’ve been in work hell this whole time, battling my inner demons and their outer demons and the angel on my shoulder, it turns out, was just blowing smoke up my ass so I wouldn’t give up and leave her there by herself. It’s been more than your average amount of adjustment to a new job. Some day I’ll write a book about it.

But not today.

TODAY, I am here to declare: I am going to sort of try to maybe do NaNoWriMo this year. I’m not hopeful–as I say every year because every year is a fresh hell of scheduling insanity and massive teetering piles of responsibility–but I’m going to TRY. And if I fail, well then at least I will have written something which is more than I can say for the past… ohhh… so many months I can’t even count.

I am missing the process of writing. I am missing the community of writers. I’m missing the part of my soul that isn’t daily tortured by bureaucracy and inept coworkers.

Friends, I am ready to WRITE!

P.S. I’m pantsing so hard this year that I have… no… starting point for this year’s project.

 

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I have no idea what I’m doooooooing! Photo by Jopwell on Pexels.com

There’s More Than One Way to End Happy

I started watching Jane the Virgin on Netflix at a point in my life–I don’t remember exactly–when I needed a story about motherhood. I was one myself, and probably newly so, either with my first or my second, and everything else was baaad. I was isolated, exhausted, hormonal, and depressed and then… Jane. An hour of magic and love and characters who talked to each other, expressed their fears and feelings, and got through some wacky shit together.

I just watched the last episode this afternoon–crying hysterically the whole time–one day before my last at the crappy per diem job I took five years ago knowing that I wanted to have a baby and couldn’t afford to stop working.

Five years for Jane’s story, five years for this part of mine, and both of us going from childless and job-focused to motherhood and authorhood, (although she’s obviously doing better than me on that front).

Five years ago, before I’d even gotten pregnant, I left a full-time position at a company that was in its third round of lay-offs and took a friend up on an offer to get me into his organization. It seemed great at the time: super part-time, flexible, easy, close to home, and both not benefited and working for a lazy permissive supervisor which meant that the only consequence of not showing up was a smaller paycheck. It let me be there for my babies, take (obviously unpaid) maternity leave but go back when I was ready, work from home if necessary and really, just come and go as I please. But it also ended up being really exploitative. My boss knew that I didn’t have a lot of options, especially after my second child. He knew my work style–proactive, problem-solving, self-motivated and reliable to a fault–and used it against me constantly, letting me talk myself into doing things that were clearly and negligently NOT my responsibility rather than taking any responsibility on himself to do or delegate. He was the kind of racist who would say things like, “I wish they’d just tell me their real names. I’ll call them by their real names. I’m that kind of guy. They don’t have to make up fake American names just to make me comfortable.” And the kind of sexist who would laugh harder when I’d say, “Wow, that’s sexist. Please stop,” because he thought we were both in on the joke.

So when an amazing permanent part-time position came up with a job description that read like a list of my skills, I jumped and I landed and I start on Monday.

I’ve spent the past two and a half weeks since I gave my notice trying to enjoy all the parts of my schedule that make me happy: abundant time with my children, flexibility to deal with routine appointments as well as unhappy surprises, illnesses, and babysitter flakeouts, the freedom to Not Care what happens at work because honestly, with a boss like that, why should I?

All that comes to an end tomorrow. And I become a real working mother who only sees her kids at the beginning and end(ish) of the day, who doesn’t have nearly enough time to stream videos on my phone while I nurse a child.

And Jane ends at the same time, stripping all the magic out of my life and forcing me to grow up, get out of the house, and be my own person again.

I hate when a show I love ends. But my babies are growing up and don’t need me as much which means I can leave a shitty job and do something with my time other than watching TV until that baby belly is full.

 

And there’s always my somewhat fictionalized memoir to help me appreciate my choice. Oh but that’s more about Riverdale than Jane. I’ve done a lot of breast-feeding over the past few years so I streamed a lot of drama.

I’ve seen every episode of Baywatch, by the way.

 

Fully Functioning: a postpartum descent into obsessive fangirling

Fully Functioning Cover v6 by Eda J Vor

Available for pre-order on Amazon.com

It was a slow and painful realization that there was something wrong and the ease with which everyone else ignored it made it all the more squiggly to pin down. After all, a functional mother is one who can change a diaper and remember bedtimes. If she’s not falling to pieces, she’s fine.

Go down the rabbit-hole of hormone-induced mental illness and back again with a woman who survived postpartum depression through fanfiction addiction and found the clarity to confront the everyday demons of a troubled marriage, inadequate healthcare, and unattainable ideals of motherhood. This is the partially true story from an utterly unreliable narrator of how our culture fails mothers in their most desperate and vulnerable state.

 

Corruption is My Fav

Sometimes your boss does something wrong, you ask about it, and then you get a condescending lecture that includes things like:

  1. Saying “someone” with quotey fingers instead of using people’s names
  2. Making statements like, “There is a possibility of retaliation so we need to be careful who we speak to about things”
  3. Addressing your professional concerns by saying “I’m sorry if feelings were hurt”
  4. Using a gruff and manly voice while squeezing his fists and asking if you understand.

Oh that feeling of being trapped by your circumstances in a situation where you have no power and someone is clearly taking advantage of you. This is America!

 

Cartoon villains have more gravitas.

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Using Your Powers for Evil

I’ve written nothing in months that wasn’t the fiction writer’s evil mustachioed twin: Marketing copy.

Still creative, just more manipulative. Still storytelling, but with the purpose of telling your audience that their life sucks and you can fix it if they just give you some money. Still… writing but the kind that rots your soul.

I’m ok. I don’t hate the world or anything. Anyway, wanna buy some stuff because… because that’s what I do now.

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Based on a True Visceral Reaction

I used to date a man named Doug and he would often complain that “Doug” was the name they used for every idiot character in TV and movies.

Case in point: Doug Whitmore for 50 First Dates.

Intelligent *cough elitist* ex named Doug hated movie character Doug Whitmore because he held all the hallmarks of an unlikable, pathetic, fatally flawed character mocked for his utter lack of masculine prowess: An adult male who lives with his dad, doesn’t hold down a job, stutters, can’t get/keep a woman, is inappropriately vain, has poor fashion sense, and much too obviously “compensates for something” with the masculine traits he does exhibit (his physique).

Sure, there are a few other dopey Dougs: Doug Funnie from Doug, Doug Billings from The Hangover. But there are also some awesome Dougs like Douglas Quaid from Total Recall or… I don’t know, Douglas Adams who wrote Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Ooh, Doug Jones who is THE monster in every awesome scifi show/movie! How about Doug E. Fresh, the human beatbox? Boots and cats, ya’ll!

Still, the argument stayed with me and every time I see a character named Doug, I automatically assume he’ll turn out to be the turd who ruins everything.

That’s why I named my new character Doug. He’s a turd. He deserves a name that makes me think, “Ugh, TURD!” every time I write about him. Also, it’s possible that he’s loosely based on a real person who may or may not–depending on who you ask–be someone sort of liiiiiiiiiike… my real boss.

“So I have a meeting with a woman named Ann at 1:30 today,” I said to my boss that morning. “You want to fill me in?”

Doug scratched his head in that annoying way that meant he was definitely about to lie to cover his own ass. “Oh yeah, I met her at the… um… so she’s working on a client management system thing for Kathy’s department and I said I could use something like that and I may have mentioned that you were trying to…”

He shrugged and pouted before turning back to the two sentence email it was taking almost twenty minutes to write. This is my boss. This is the person responsible for so much more than he can reasonably handle and his paycheck reflects it. I, on the other hand, am the person who does the work and makes the decisions that he “just can’t deal with today” and my paycheck looks like I work the counter at Dinky Donuts part-time. Mother’s hours, of course.

Ugh, Doug.

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DISCLAIMERS: Sean Astin = awesome. My boss’s name does not = Doug.

Mom Politics

I was having a conversation at work today about my “skill set” and how much more valuable it would be in a different environment. “With just a little more training, you could be making at least three times what you make here,” this person said.

To which I responded, “I could be making more as a shift supervisor at Dunkin Donuts than I do here. It’s not always about money.”

Except that it is, actually. And I know for a fact that I’m not the only one.

My options as a mother in America are:

  1. I work full-time and put my kids in daycare full time and if I’m lucky, I’ll break even.
  2. I work regular part-time hours and spend what money I make on a caregiver for the time I’m at work.
  3. I keep on doin’ what I’m doin’, working a super flexible per diem schedule with no benefits, no paid time off, peanuts for compensation but I can be with my kids most of the day 6 days a week.

Childcare in America is broken. This is not new news.

But also, as valuable as my skills are, yes I do need more training. And you know what I do not have the mental capacity for? New Skills. Classes. Training. Stuffing new things into the full sack of crap that is my brain.

And of course, I had to explain this.

Right now, I have two jobs with two sets of responsibilities that I need to keep track of because in both circumstances I have bosses who actually look to me to figure out what to do. I have two young children who can’t yet manage any little part of their own lives so it’s up to me to keep track of feeding, potty, diapers, bed times, nap times, clothing needs, medicine, putting away toys, school schedule, karate schedule, babysitter schedule, basic life skills, advanced life skills, future planning. And if that wasn’t enough, I also have household schedules, chores, problems that need solutions, future planning, organizational planning, seasonal issues AND half the time, I have to keep track of my husband’s life too.

Like, where is there room for another coding class in there?

I don’t have the time to improve my skills. I don’t have the brain space. I don’t have the money for a paid course. I can’t compromise the jobs I currently have to make advances toward a more profitable future.

Not now. Not yet. Talk to me in five years when my kids are in school full-time. Maybe. Because the schools near me are so bad and the education system in general is so poorly managed, I might end up homeschooling just to keep my children from getting bullied or raped or SHOT.

I don’t need another coding class. I don’t need to ramp up my skill set to improve my life. It’s not all on me to fix this shit. Our society as a whole needs to shape the hell up.

America, you’re in a time out. Go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done to the children.

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NaNoProblem

It’s only three days in so really, it’s too early to make any predictions but what I’ve got going for me so far:

  • I’ve met the word count goal every day so far
  • I’ve found a way to sneak like 15-20 minutes of writing into my regular routine with only minor changes that my son only sort of notices.
  • My husband is on board so far with helping me find more time by taking the kids on a nap ride in the afternoon without me. This won’t work every day but it’s working so far
  • I’ve chosen a story that I’m interested in finding out more about in a location I’ve been curious about for a while with a main character who reflects some of my current attitudes about interacting with other humans (bad) so it’s been easy to write so far
  • I’m so used to surviving on precious little sleep at this point. Like, why not stay up writing a few extra half-hours?

What I’ve got going against me is:

  • Having two children now, neither or whom will nap without a ride in the car or go to bed at night without a whole lot of love and attention.
  • Two imploding job situations where I’m dealing with two separate sets of problems alongside two teams of people who can’t always handle their shiz
  • Honestly, like three or four non-consecutive hours of sleep at night. I’m on the brink of sleep-deprived madness, for REAL. Maybe it’s fueling my creativity? Or maybe it’s making my husband and children WANT to escape from me for a few hours every afternoon. Hard to say.

Anyway, I’m at 5100 words and the fam’s not back from their nap ride yet so I’m going to forge ahead and make tomorrow easier.

Or I could take a break and watch another episode of A Million Little Things. Can you believe the baby’s father is the other guy? No, because you don’t care? Well, I kinda do… for the 54 minutes I’m watching, anyway.

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Write Another Day?

I am just over 9,000 words away from meeting my adjusted Camp NaNo goal and it… doesn’t… look… good.

Unless I can write half of that today, in under 3 hours while multitasking some actual work stuff, I won’t make it.

So the question is: Readjust that goal again or take the fail and know that when my children get older I WILL have more time for writing again?

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**UPDATE**: I wrote 4,339 words today which is almost half! This race ain’t over yet!

What’s Your Workplace Inequality Rant?

I’m a short lady who doesn’t necessarily look her age (from afar, at least) and while I have very healthy self-esteem and can command a room with just the power of my saucy attitude, I still deal with a whole lotta dismissive, condescending, underestimating bullcrap. Especially in the workplace. Especially from old men who call me sweetheart or honey and treat me like a precious little princess.

And we’re not talking Elena of Avalor or Merida of the Arrow in your behind if you sass her. I mean more like those people who dress toddlers up like pageant queens. Might as well just pat my head and wax my arm hair, because Momma needs to live out her beauty queen fantasies through you, my little princess.

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Pointed… at… your butt.

It’s infuriating. And even as I get older and start to look older, graying hair and wrinkly eyes and Anne Tayloresque ensembles and, you know, seniority and all, I still get treated this way because it has nothing to do with me or who I am or how I’m qualified or what my title or place in the hierarchy may be.

Little girls get lollipops, not respect.

I have no solution at present, other than possibly to borrow Merida’s bow, but I want to feel that I’m not alone so I like to put my stories out there and provide a forum for thought or discussion, much like the main character in my new book, Lay Her Ghosts to Rest, eventually does in her own workplace*.

I’ve added a discussion question on GoodReads for this purpose. What’s your workplace bullcrap behavior story and would you care to share it in my forum?

You can find it here. 

 

*Excerpt from Lay Her Ghosts to Rest

“Catori, that’s all so wonderful and truly a remarkable breakthrough but I have to tell you–this is what I’ve been waiting to tell you–that there absolutely is a better way and you’ve already found it. You’ve already implemented it. You have already made significant, compassionate, beneficial changes to this Institution and you did it just by being your own, admittedly flawed, self.”

Catori furrowed her brow. She wasn’t in the mood to celebrate whatever had made Dr. Sunkireddy so happy to see her. She wanted to wallow in the gravity of reality for a while. She wanted it to be clear in her own mind what she was saying and thinking and feeling and connect them all in a significant way.

But she didn’t want to be rude either. “How so?” she asked with little enthusiasm.

“You’ve started what could accurately be called a grassroots revolution among the employees here. They’ve been coming to me and the other counselors in droves over the past week, talking about you and the discussion groups you’ve been having in the Lounge after hours. They’re excited and relieved and hopeful and every single one of them credits you.”

“Oh.”

Mom Vacation at Target in 10

Moving is not going well. Let’s just say I currently live in my in-laws’ attic because some bureaucrat has decided to take a longer long weekend holiday instead of signing the one piece of paper I need to buy my home. Yes, it should have been signed months ago but the man building my house didn’t send it then. He sent it yesterday. And it’s too nice out today to sign papers that let people buy the houses they are contracted to buy tomorrow after having already sold the house they were living in yesterday to someone else.

So I live in my in-laws’ attic and only see a computer two or three times a week when I get to go to work.

My boss just asked me, as I projected colorful mucus from my nose holes on this my 8th day of being ill, why I don’t just go home. What home, bossman? The one I don’t own anymore? The one I don’t own yet? Or the one where no one will tell me where anything is or how to get things done, where I don’t have a key or know the alarm code and I’m not supposed to be feeding myself or leaving without making plans for someone to let me back in?

Oh Target? You meant why don’t I go to Target? Why not indeed. Target, here I come.

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