Cool and Collected

A woman I occasionally work with is leaving her position. She is out on the West Coast, so we have mostly interacted via IM. We have been on phone calls, and, as she reminded me, we once “met” over telepresence (which I will make a common noun). We were IMing earlier, likely for the last time.

Her: I always wish I could talk like you, so cool and collected.
Me: Hahaha.

But that was nice.

Stuff circa January 12, 2011

Dating. Noting to add here. The topic enters my mind every day. I thwarts any potential enthusiasm. I could not even string together three words to a woman I might be interested in merely beginning a conversation with. I wonder if 35 was a strong magnet that accelerator my descent into myself to the point where I will soon fit the conventional wisdom’s definition of the loner. I have a very honest, blunt, occasionally humorus profile that should appeal to someone. Fair enough, it does, on occasion. Women pushing forty with kids and women who selectively read my profile will tend to thing I could be someone fascinating for them.

Housekeeping. I have not neat back from them this week. I left a voicemail today and a website message tonight. I stressed that my parents were visiting next week, and that I was having surgery, and that it would be so fantastic if I had strikingly clean home to present for the first time, almost ever. Perhaps they’re not too excited about taking on the screwed-up-single-guy client who had the nerve to ask if his dishes could be done even though that’s not on the official price list. Do they realize what heroes they might be too me if they can add some sparkle to my cat-urine-themed pad? If I don’t here back from them, I don’t think I’ll have it in me to start a new search for immediate housekeeping help. Mom, Dad, and Stepmother will see a grotesque abode, and my recuperation will be complicated by constant anxiety. Should I get the cleaning service after all, the remaining clutter will still prompt judgement that I want no expression of.

Dialysis. Dialysis is so hard. It never gets easier. Working full-time on a new job where you are expected to tackle important tasks and keep you dialysis schedule…this is hard. This is draining. This is a purgatory. My life won’t get anywhere as long as I’m going to dialysis. This is just truth. There’s no way around this reality. It doesn’t help matters when I leak blood after being taped up. It doesn’t help matters when the techs around at 7:00 spend their time bashing the other techs and the management It leaves me feeling that, any day now, I’m going to be leaving in a body bag.

WorkI’ve got a 1-on-1 with my manager tomorrow, the first since shortly after I began this position. I’m nervous. I have no idea what he thinks of the job I am doing or what he expects me to be doing. I am too afraid of saying the wrong thing to press these issues. I don’t want this cloud of awkwardness hanging over my job. But I don’t want to rock the boat. I need the job.

Metablogging I’ve made a small effort to write more about my health over the last couple of weeks. I have done this in part because I will be a session panelist at a conference this Saturday. I shall say more tomorrow or Friday…or after the fact. I was invited to this conference because of this blog, and so I could discuss what it’s like to blog about my health condition. I doubt I will spend much time preparing, and I don’t even know how I would go about preparing. I plan just to be relaxed and blunt with my answers when the time comes. It will either be an hour of enlightenment or pained awkwardness, but then it will be done.

Potpourri for 800

Follow-up on my work rants
Well, I missed two days of work due to various symptoms that can be summed up as having felt brain-dead. On Wednesday, I battled through a day at work despite feeling brain-dead. On Thursday, I was half-ready to deal with the fallout from the previous weekend’s activities and my blunt assessment of everything (I shared something similar to what I posted with a key figure at work). Like a boxer trying to muster the strength to stand up after being knocked out, I thought I was getting back on my feet…but, then, bam! Knocked out again by a completely unexpected development that I can’t get into here. It suffices to say, the development made moot all that I had been stressing about, conjuring up a fresh batch of brain-numbing concerns. Oh, yeah, and it cemented my feeling that the past two to three months of work was a complete waste. So now my morale at work is even lower than it was a week ago. And I expect a craptastic week ahead.

As usual, I will not allow my brain to focus on it on an off-night for more than a minute or two. It sucks, and it will always suck. I can continue to tweak elements of it in the hopes of making it more tolerable, such as what medicinal cocktail I take to sleep soundly while I’m there, what sheets I use for maximum comfort atop the awful vinyl mattress, and how I mentally cope with the jarring, cacophonous wake-up routine.

What do I want to do with my life
This is a bit too complex a question for a potpourri post. Essentially, my brain comes up mostly empty when trying to tackle this question. It’s not just what to do in the present that stumps me. What’s worse is that I can’t answer that question if it’s applied to a hypothetical future that gives me a new kidney. Here I am, begging the world for a kidney, but I don’t feel like I deserve one if I’m just going to waste my life.

Pet picture
I still find wonder in pet pictures, when I capture an expression that has not previously been seen in hundreds of prior images. Here’s Aremid from last night:

Saturday Night with Aremid (3)

More work-related brain-dump

Lucky Strike Sturm und Drang

Ideally, I’d have someone to review my data-migration process with. Ideally, there’d be someone to look at each step, and affirm that it makes sense, or question of there’s a better one, or if I’m missing something.

Whom I can help me here?

_____? I blame him for much of the sorry state of the application, and I do not want to enlist his help in anything if possible. Yes, it’s personal.

_____? He can give me another set of eyes. He is not seasoned enough (don’t take that personally) to know if a method is sound or not, but I could have done some form of technical review with him.

_____? I have wished since you started in this position that you would be a project manager who would help facilitate true project plans—not kick-off meetings, and marketing meetings, and change management meetings–but meetings to help nail down schedules for specific tasks in a project. However, you non-chalantly labeled this [project] as a mere release and did not seem to appreciate the breadth of activity needed to get this done, particularly when it was not ultimately going to be done by the “two developers over two months” that had ben touted. Second, and this has been a sore spot with me all along, you haven’t familiarized yourself with our environment and applications to the point where you can offer meaningful suggestions at a technical level in developing a project plan. That has been very frustrating to me. You have made a conscious choice not to learn about the basics of our our systems are developed, configured, and maintained. And you have little patience for skepticsm when I don’t think a previous experience of yours easily translates to a present situation.

Consequently, I feel like I bear the whole load of the projects. I feel they are always destined to fail, or at least have significant problems. I cannot foresee everything on my own. In a complex project such as [this project], there were dozens upon dozens of tasks of varying degrees of difficulty-level and time-consumption. I did very well at about 90% of these. The other 10% I failed out, failed to execute when the time was needed and failed to communicate to you that these were issues to be mindful of. As always, a 10% failure looks to everyone else like a 90% failure. I care enough about the project that I can’t help but take it personally and have it feel like a 90% failure.

I feel like we’re at a stalemate. We’ve been here before. I usually just let it all recede until the next crisis, because I don’t see how this can work, and I cannot survive with the level of stress I have while contempating trying to face this.

I don’t take solace in the mindset of “at least I have a job”. I might need to get out of this environment. _______ would be better off, because without anyone who really knows development, the only choice would be to adopt the new software package with no customization. I don’t know where I’d go, but it is hard to continue in an environment where I know customers and leadership don’t like the application and don’t trust that the team is competent enough to implement any significant changes, and where my manager hasn’t made the effort to understand the application at a level that would allow him to help development meaningful project plans.

My morale is about as low as it can get. It was terrible after the October 2007 upgrade, and this is as bad by the mere fact that it’s happened again. Despite my best efforts, I will always be in a position to fail and disappoint. This is not a healthy recipe for tackling working challenges on a daily basis.

Just feeling sorry for myself, nothing to read here

Tonight, I’ll pretend that I don’t have a bunch of new readers, like my mother, like people who don’t know me well whom I hope could have a favorable impression of me, and like Facebook readers who never asked to hear exactly what’s in my head. For new readers, I’ll repeat what I’ve said a bunch of times before, which is that I used to have various journal platforms for these kinds of thoughts, but I can tend to lose my inhibitions and just throw those thoughts up here.

I just had my worst day at work in over two years. I had to put something into production today, and that usually happens on a Saturday. I thought there might be a few minor problems, but, in general, I thought I had done a great job of developing this custom module that would allow us to do a way with another annoying app. It’s ironic, because the-powers-that-be are always stressing going “out-of-the-box” but they had no problem scrapping a mostly out-of-the-box app for something that is total custom development, that, for all intensive purposes, I’m the only one who can really support it. In reality, the-powers-that-be don’t really understand that platform I work on at all, and don’t have any idea what the difference between “configuration” and “development” is. Nor do they appreciate at all that they have a developer with 11 years of experience who does understand this.

Anyway, I was pretty sure that there would be a few data hiccups in migrating from one system to another, and I thought it was understood that this could happen, and we’d iron out these problems within a couple of days of launching. However, as testing revealed that some data wasn’t right, even though I knew exactly how to fix it, the-powers-that-be decided that if they couldn’t trust that it was all 100% accurate, we’d have to roll back. Logically, from the point of view to someone who doesn’t understand the app at all, which is everyone involved in today’s implementation except for me, there could be a distrust that any percentage of the data was wrong. But I knew otherwise, that these data problems were isolated and quickly fixable.

I take these things very personally, even though I am always told not to. The only thing worthwhile I do with my life is whatever I get done at work. When I’m pretty sure that I’ve done an A- job on something but I know it’s perceived as a D, it’s incredibly demoralizing.
I mean, what the hell else do I have going for me?

As far as my career is concerned, I am completely trapped in this niche, of which I think I’m somewhat of an expert. And yet, my judgement is also questioned, and the powers-that-be don’t even bother to ask for my input on the direction of our app, content to ask the advice of the vendor, who knows nothing of our environment and is only interested in selling us services that we can’t afford.

I so wish that I could afford to live on what disability would pay. The stress I get from my job is going to kill me, in conjunction with my shitty kidneys and unrelenting depression.

Oh, did I just mention the D word? Not dialysis…depression…which I make a passing reference to every now and then in here. Since my mother reads this, or, rather, in spite of the fact that she reads this, because this may be an unfair comment to make, it’s always infuriated me how much focus she’s placed on how I should deal with my kidney disease…endless emails and encyclopedias of information…what to avoid eating and doing…while all along…it’s been crystal clear to me that if I have a premature death, it’s is not going to be due to kidney disease but due to depression.

I realize a statement like that makes people very uncomfortable. People can sorta figure out to say to the guy on dialysis with kidney disease. But the guy who’s depressed? People want to stay away from that guy.

And how I got onto depression when I was talking/ranting about work, I don’t know.

Let’s go for the gold, while I’m at it, while I don’t care how inappropriate any of this is to say publicly.

Anyone care to know just how bad the depression can get? No, not really, Toastie. Well, please, by all means, stop reading now. This is your warning. YOU DON’T NEED TO READ ANY FURTHER.

So I recently unearthed an email I sent to one the various mental health professionals who have failed to be of much help over the years. I’ll just say this was written sometime in the last five years:

Subject: Urgent Help needed

Hi ____________,

I am writing rather than doing absolutely nothing as a course of
action for my depression. I have been in what I consider an absolute
depression for a couple of days now. I suppose if it were truly
absolute, I could not even be writing this email.

I’m not suicidal, if suicidal means there is a danger I am going to
physically harm myself. I don’t see the use in doing anything that
would result in me being at the ER or being locked up in a psych ward.

But I’m hardly functioning. I am not at work today. I am not taking
care of myself. –

Clearly the medication I take now does not prevent these “episodes”. I
cannot imagine any medications or therapies that would do me any good.
There is no reason to believe that you would suddenly have a magical
solution as opposed to any other point during the last many years.

But I have to tell someone if there is any remote chance that there is
help available. And you’re my doctor. So I am telling you. Do we need
to zap my brain? What do you do with the suicidal patients? I’m almost
sure I am just as depressed as they are, without the small problem of
being on the verge of trying to kill myself.

I’d call, but that means leaving an awkward message with ________,
who may or may not get you the message. In fact, I did just
that back [a few months ago], in which I practically begged to have you see
me sooner than our next scheduled appointment, and I didn’t hear back
from you. I didn’t bring it up again, because if I burn bridges with
you, I am completely without options.

Inappropriate blogging. Yup. I just don’t care right now. I may regret it tomorrow. I’ve made posts before that I’ve later put behind a password or just made private, and I might just do that with this post. Or maybe I won’t.

If I have given anyone the impression recently that ANYTHING is ok, I intentionally wish to shatter it right now. Not that I expect anyone to have any words of wisdom. Not that I expect that I won’t lose readers over this.

The blog will say ‘no comments’. I don’t know how to prevent comments on the Facebook feed.

Beating back teh sick

I really didn’t need the sudden onset of a Category 4 cold right now. Itchy, scratch, slimy throat, congestion, overall yuckiness… When I awoke this morning, I couldn’t take a breath without nearly chocking on mucous. I pondered. This was not good. I’ve already exhausted all of my leave from work due to the other stuff. No days left for “normal sick”. Whom would I see if I needed medical attention? My primary care physician doesn’t even know who I am, since she’s never there when I actually have to come in to make an appointment at the group practice. And it’s always the same deal–check for strep, try some Claritin for possible allergies. But now I’m in that category of folks who should “consult a physician” before taking just about an OTC medication. My nephrologist’s response time ranges between a day and never. I’m so tired of doctor’s office’s anyway. In about 1000 trips lifetime, they’ve pronounced my name correctly about 10% of the time. That alone is enough to spike my doctor’s office angst.

Prior to Feburary 4, 2008, feeling like I do today would mean a sick day 95% of the time. Today, I found some way to get myself to a hot shower and feel about 25% better, just enough to get myself into work.

And, the odd thing is, I want to be at work. I really do. Well, I want to be here as opposed to home, where clutter and Fancy Feast odors and my smelly much-in-need-of-a-grooming dog overwhelm me.

Here at work…to configure, repair, and enhance everyone’s favorite incident management system…

I appologize…

At work, we use a VAR (Value Added Reseller) for support. They’re terrible. Anyway, for the umpteenth time, they’ve prematurely set an issue to ‘resolved’ status. I said, “Yo, WTF is up with you resolving my stuff that you haven’t resolved?” No, I was quite polite, which is a considerable effort considering their constant bumbling.

The response:

I appologize…

I make typos all the time. They frequently wind up in here. But if you rely on me for customer support, are you going to feel confident in my abilities if I can’t spell ‘apologize’?

But they’re providing technical support. Why do they need to know how to spell?

I don’t know. What if you’re running for a significant elected position? Pat McCrory’s staff can’t spell, but that shouldn’t disqualify him from running for Governer of North Carolina, should it?

Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1, Prelude

I’m blown away. This is one of those pieces of classical music I’ve heard a thousand times before but never knew what it was. Thanks to iTunes sharing at work, I can now match the music to the composer and the name of the piece.

Thanks, BM. I don’t even know who you are. What else can I listen to….

(The first page of tracks hops from 2 Pac to Annie Lennox to Avril Lavigne to Bach…)

(Someone out there, well, here at work, is listening to my iTunes shared stuff. My first page hops from 10,000 Maniacs to Aerosmith to Aha to Air Supply…)