Time’s up

Today is my last day of medical leave. I’ve been off for six weeks and three days and I’m as ready as I’ll ever be to get back to my job.

What a disappointing week, to say the least. I should have been back to work last Wednesday, November 9, but I asked for a couple extra days when I last saw the surgeon. I knew I’d be up late watching the election returns and I wanted to be able to sleep in. Turns out it was a smart move in more ways than one.

Being in the Pacific Time zone, I didn’t have to stay up in the wee hours to see the general direction things were going. Election Night was also a knitting group night, and since we all wanted to watch the returns I invited people to my house. We started out happily enough at about 6:30 PM. As we watched the sea of red grow on the election map on PBS we got more subdued. When the results for Pennsylvania were posted we knew it was over.

I went to bed that night with 90% certainty that HRC lost the election, but I still had some hope. The next morning all doubts were resolved.

Since then I’ve been laying low. Partly because I’m depressed and distressed by the results, and partly because I’m relishing my copious free time while it is still available.

My recuperation from surgery has been pretty smooth, but despite spending so much downtime around the house I’ve managed to injure myself. Within a single week I whacked the baby toe on my left foot hard enough that I’m sure I broke it, and then misstepped in my driveway and sprained my left ankle badly.

(My left foot and ankle have sustained more injuries than any other part of my body. I first sprained that ankle when I was 10 and have lost count of how many times I’ve done so. The last time I injured that ankle was a fibula fracture two years ago. I got a ride to the local hospital for an x-ray just to make sure I didn’t fracture it again, and was happy to find out it was just another sprain.)

Since my mobility was restricted, I’ve been rather sedentary during the past six weeks. I watched a lot of streaming media. Read a few books. Completed the knitting, blocking, and sewing up of two sweaters. Made good progress on a third sweater, and restarted knitting on a little shawl that keeps confounding me when I check the stitch count.

I’m not sure if I’m mentally ready to resume work now or not, but that doesn’t matter at this point. I think I’ll go set the alarm now so I don’t forget.

Updating my work space

Updating my work space

Since I’ve moved to California, I’ve been almost exclusively telecommuting for work. I do seem to have reasons to get into the office in San Francisco at least once or twice a month, but most days I’m working out of my rental home in Napa.

Even before I left Chicago I was telecommuting most days of the week. I had an assigned workspace in our company’s office in the Loop (Chicago’s business district) for a long time, but the trend towards “hoteling” did away with that about a year before I moved. Being a “hoteled employee” means you reserve your workspace either in advance, or you sign into one when you arrive at the office. My company had rules about what type of workspace you could request, and your level in the company had some impact on whether you could request certain types of workspaces. As a person who is fairly senior, I was able to request offices while I was in Chicago, and I usually could get one if I reserved far enough in advance.

That’s not the case in San Francisco office, but I really don’t mind not having an office. Most people are quiet, and if a person needs to have a phone meeting, it’s usually easy enough to use one of the “telephone booths” set up for just that purpose. These are small rooms with a chair, a worktop, and a phone and they work well for their purposes.

Offices are very different nowadays. The newest trend seems to be to set up long counters or tables with either no partitions or very short ones. Many people in the “open concept” offices are using headphones to listen to music or just keep out any background noise. For much of my career it seemed that it was a big deal to get your own private office. Now it just doesn’t seem to matter very much.

As a telecommuter, my workspace is my entire house. Thanks to wifi, I can work in any room I want to work in, and I often do move my work laptop around with me throughout the day. When I’m making coffee in the early morning, I usually have the laptop in the kitchen with me so I can boot up and get logged in to my email while waiting for the water to get hot. When I eat meals, I’ll often have the laptop on my little dining table with me and work at the same time.

But the place I have most often worked in the house is on the couch in the living room. I started doing that back in Chicago because then I could put my feet up, which was necessary when I had a broken ankle. I also found that if I sat that way I wouldn’t slump and hunch over my laptop.

With all the issues I’ve been having with my right eye, though, my visual acuity has been inconsistent and has made working on my small laptop screen a bit of a problem for me. I started thinking about getting a big monitor that I could plug into, but then a conversation with a friend led me to start looking into getting a TV instead. So I’ve added a 28-inch Vizio smart TV to my work area and am enjoying having a nice big screen on which I can do my work. Now I have no problems reading my Outlook inbox, and I have the bonus of a larger screen on which to stream Netflix and Amazon Prime in my bedroom, too, since my work area is there. I haven’t had a TV in my bedroom in well over 20 years, so I’m not sure if this is ultimately good or not. I suppose it will come in handy if I’m confined to bed while sick, at least.

Smart TV as monitor

A 28-inch Vizio smart TV used as a monitor.


When you read this, you’ll realize why I couldn’t even think about it until today, much less record it.

6:00 – 7:30 AM — Get out of bed; head outside with dogs to open coop and feed/water chickens; shower and dress; feed dogs; pack lunch and afternoon snack; make coffee and eat some breakfast.

7:30 – 8:00 AM — Conference call with India team reviewing work done in past 24 hours, and assigning priorities for next 24 hours.

8:12 AM — Walk to train.

8:30 – 9:15 AM — Commuting to office on the train while on a conference call about resourses/staffing in India.

9:15 – 10:00 AM — Catching up on email and fielding IMs.

10:00 – 10:30 AM — Conference call about status of an open project; have to juggle the deadline due to higher priority, “all-consuming project.”

10:30 – 12:30 PM — Catching up on email and fielding IMs; meeting with a local team member to provide feedback on her deliverable; working on deliverables to send to India; heating up and eating lunch.

12:30 – 1:00 PM — Conference call discussing several open projects; multi-task by continuing to work on deliverables.

1:00 – 2:00 PM — Continue to work on deliverables and review the re-work of local team member.

2:00 – 3:00 PM — Project status checkpoint meeting. Continue to work on deliverables while meeting going on.

3:00 – 4:00 PM — Review/assign work to local team members, making sure all is clear and accountability/timelines established.

4:00 – 5:15 PM — Continue to work on deliverables, emails, IMs and field questions from local team members.

5:15 – 6:15 PM — Catch train home and use the downtime to do a bit of knitting; let dogs out in yard; set up laptop and get on the phone with my boss to review status of “all-consuming project.”

6:15 – 8:08 PM — Discuss deliverables, resources, record feedback for priority setting with India, and troubleshoot problems with boss; mix up a double martini as we talk since I *really* need it; feed dogs; eat some peanuts as I drink.

8:15 – 9:30 PM — Change out of work clothes; shut up chickens for the night and collect eggs (a 4 egg day! woot!); fix some dinner (bagged salad and homemade salmon patties from the freezer); sit down at laptop to eat and write up notes; take a bit of extra time away from laptop screen to watch 30 Rock (funny!), but otherwise just leave TV on as background noise.

9:30 – 10:30 PM — Decide have done enough work for the day and stop; wash dishes and clean up kitchen; knit for about 20 minutes as I decompress in front of TV and listen/watch local news; go to bed.

10:45 PM — Thunderstorms start outside; Hannah dog begins quivering/quaking, shaking the bed as I fall off to sleep, exhausted.

If I wrote one of these up every day, it could certainly help me with my time report…

Rebel and revolt!

That’s what I’ve felt like doing a good part of the day. Why do I spend so much of my energy on work? I feel like I should be able to spend more of my time enjoying my life.

I started my day with a 5 AM call with my team in India and just ended it a few minutes ago when I sent my last email for the night. I’m supposed to be taking the day off tomorrow, but I’ll have to be checking email starting bright and early just to make sure that things are getting done.

I suppose I shouldn’t whine since I make good money and I *do* have a job, which can be considered a special thing these days.

I’ve thought of a hundred things to write about today, but then I lost them as I had to concentrate on other things. All I can remember is this: I’d like to run away this summer and go to Sock Summit.

Why not?

At week’s end

Phew….I made it. This has been a very tough week for me, and I’m glad to be officially entering the weekend now. 

*Digression: my husband has just returned home and told me that during his routine doctor’s visit he was told that he had a mild case of “the flu” and prescribed Tamiflu. Great, this is just what I need to end a crappy week: a sick husband who can pass me a contagious virus that will make me miserable. OK, back to the normal whining.*

I’m not finding much energy lately for my job. It’s not that I hate it, but I just am having a hard time looking at it as much more than…just a job. And this type of work is best done with lots of enthusiasm. I’m supposed to be managing a team of 4 people here in the U.S. and guiding projects for another 6 people in India, and I can barely muster the enthusiasm to respond to my email lately.

Maybe this ennui will pass as my body moves through it’s usual hormonal jig.

*Digression again: I love the word ennui. I think I first ran across it in a book when I was about 12 or 14. I looked it up because I had no idea how to pronounce it, although I had some idea of the meaning from it’s context in the book I was reading. (This is why reading is so great for vocabulary development, by the way. The reader can learn a lot about words and sentence structure from context.) Ennui \än-wē\: a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction. Such a poetic-sounding word! I can say it over and over again and feel almost happy just because it sounds so good, so right.*

Anyway, here I sit at home with a martini and some peanuts — a vodka martini (Kettle One vodka), with a splash of vermouth and 3 blue-cheese olives. I rarely drink martinis, and even more rarely drink vodka, since many vodkas make me feel extremely ill after just a sip or two. Kettle One is not of that variety, of course. (No, I’m not being paid by Kettle One to advertise; for fairness’ sake, Skyy is another vodka I can drink without feeling like my body has been poisoned.)

I sit here feeling quite dis-attached from work, now. And glad to be away from it. While also feeling guilty that I’m not still doing it, since it is never-ending.

And I’m glad it’s the weekend now. Yes, I’m glad that I can spend the next few days with a low-energy, sick husband who wants to lay around and nap all weekend. That sets the bar pretty low on my personal performance scale, and leaves me plenty of room to just veg out.

Excuse me now. I need to get up, put away the chickens for the night, and make myself another martini.