I am now in week two of my new reality. I am still figuring out what this new reality looks like. One thing I have noticed is that my thought process when it comes to productivity is flawed in a few ways. One of those ways is how my brain sees time.
Most of my life I have lived and worked with a time clock, both literally and figuratively. I had an exact time I was supposed to be at work. I had an exact time I was done with work. I had specific times I would wake up every day. My kids had times they were supposed to be at the bus stop, or in later years, leave in their car to get to school on time. Even when I was working completely from home last spring, I had times I was supposed to clock in and out each day and I had specific times when that I considered work time.
Now that I am on sabbatical, semi-retired, unemployed, whatever you want to call it, I have discovered that my brain is still telling me if I have done enough based on the old clock. If I am done with everything I had planned for the day to early, I look at the clock and think “It’s still early. I haven’t done enough today” What my brain forgets is that my da didn’t start at my normal 9am time.
Take last Monday as an example. My dog woke me up at 5:30am. I decided not to try to go back to sleep. I made coffee and read the paper and then got started with my day, I wrote a blog post. I took a shower. I put in a load of laundry. I watched the ALA Youth Media Awards and then wrote another blog post about that. I then wrote 1000 words or so on my attempt at a jail memoir and then folded the laundry. I was done with all of that by noon. And then my brain was telling me I was lazy because it was noon and I was reading my book instead of “doing something productive: There are two problems with that 1. reading is productive and 2. I had already been busy for about 6 hours. 6 hours is a full day. It isn’t less productive because I started and ended early. If I start my day at 6 and end at 12 it is like starting at 9 and ending at 3. If I did that, I wouldn’t tell myself I was lazy because I stopped working at 3.
Today I will write some. I will read some. I will shovel snow. I will clean the oven after a sweet potato mishap last night. That is productive even if I’m done by early afternoon.
I need to change the clock in my head. I am fortunate to no longer be tied down to a 9-5 schedule. I need to stop judging myself on 9-5 terms.
This will be much more detailed about work than I would ever write before. More brave now since I’m almost done.
I wrote about how yesterday was party day. I also wrote about how my last week was not a normal last week because I keep getting calls about decisions on things that will happen after I am no longer working there. Here is a snapshot of how someone tried to ruin my moment yesterday. Is it narcissism? They hate that yesterday was about me and they couldn’t take credit for any of the good things people said about me? Maybe.
Yesterday was a work from home day. I did work on the schedule for next week even though I am on on the schedule. I get a phone call about payroll stuff. I try to explain it to them and tell them there was a post on our intranet before but it seemed to be gone now. They tell me to find the post and email it to them like I’m their fucking secretary or something. I explain again that I did not see the post but this is what it said. More on this comes later.
My party is in the afternoon. The first few minutes is all about this person and their inability to ever do Zoom properly. The next hour is great. There is a slide show that starts with a video message from a friend from my old branch. There are plenty of pictures of me from my time at work. There are quotes from coworkers. After the slide show, people said nice things about me. Former coworkers were there. One all the way from Oregon. It was much more than I expected for someone who is not officially retiring. I worked an extra hour on Monday, so I clocked out soon after the party and should have had a nice afternoon basking in the glow of the nice things people said. It was not to be.
Soon after I get a call again. About random stuff. No reason for the call except to assert their power over my life one more time. Rambling talk about an upcoming event. Wanting to go over the schedule that they should have done in the first place. Talk about meetings scheduled the next few days(both on times I should be off. No respect for people’s personal time) to decide who is taking over my duties. I’m gone in four days. Shouldn’t this be done already? No longer my problem. Talk about their needing to quarantine and how they won’t work from home like others and will just take the entire time off. Like I give any fucks anymore about their schedule. And then, finally, I think it is over.
I take the dog for a walk. I’m listening to me Spotify playlist. I’m enjoying time outside. Phone rings. I really should just refuse to answer, but I answer anyway. Back to the payroll thing. They didn’t just do what I said they should do. They looked at my employee’s timecards and didn’t see where I did it and tries to make it my problem and tells me I need to contact payroll. I finally convince them otherwise. I finally get off the phone and get one more text to tell me they finally figured it out.
I watched the slide show again with my wife to try to get back the good feeling of the day.
Now I have this to look forward to: meeting this morning to discuss reassignment of my duties. Four hours in branch and then the last meeting of my mystery book club. Tomorrow a work from home day with a staff meeting where they will talk about things that don’t matter to me anymore. A meeting on my day off with my staff to once again talk about reassignment of duties. 9-2 in branch Saturday and I’m done. I’m sure numerous annoying phone calls mxed in.
First thing I do when I am officially done? Delete contacts and block certain numbers
The below status update up in my memories today. It reminds me that I used to be funny on social media. Someone once told me I should put all of my witty posts in a book. I think they were exaggerating my humor, but I used to be known for being funny. Maybe now that I will be less stressed I will be funny again.
It’s now been a week since I turned in my letter of resignation. If it was a normal, two weeks notice scenario my work life would be winding down. Unfortunately, I gave 30 day notice so I have too much time left to really start to feel any relief.
The timing was terrible. We started two new initiatives at work this week. This means that even though I am on my way out I need to learn the basics of these initiatives to do my job over the next few weeks. Instead of a feeling of relief and winding down, I am feeling stress about the new duties and how we will navigate the work expected with no increase in staffing.
I will still be scheduled to work the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Not a huge deal since I will be home anyway, but it would be much better to have a four day weekend. After Thanksgiving I will still have two weeks of work left. I think that is when I will finally start to feel a little relief and my stress level might start to go down.
Of course, there is still a little sadness about leaving a place I have worked at for so long. A sadness about not seeing friends. A sadness about a loss of easy access to books.
I know it was the right decision. I know it will be good for me, I’m just not close enough to the end to really feel it right now.
I knew that turning in my letter of resignation was not going to magically make everything easy. Still, a part of my hoped that I would feel so good about that decision that I would get a bit of a reprieve. The problem with anxiety -there’s always something.
I resigned, but I gave 30 days notice to make sure I get paid for my accrued leave. That means instead of being almost a week into a two weeks notice i still have four weeks of work left. Instead of winding down and passing things on to other people I’m stressed about how to spend my work at home time when I’m not going to be taking on new projects. Instead of being free from meetings about upcoming things, the four weeks means I still have to participate. It won’t be until Thanksgiving that I feel more free from the work anxiety
Outside work life s also full of things to worry about. Covid is surging across the country. Restrictions are being put back into place. It won’t change things for us for Thanksgiving. We don’t travel, so we will have our normal four person festivities. Christmas is looming, though, and I can’t imagine things will be better by the time we normally travel. I had really hopes that we would avoid the surge until after the holidays. Once we hit January I will be happy to be in my house and only seeing my wife and kids until things are better.
There’s always the little things as well. Is the basement really fixed and won’t flood with the current rain? Will our second attempt at window installation be successful? Etc, etc, etc.
Regular readers of the blog know that I have been in an unhappy situation. I felt stuck. I was depressed. I knew I needed a change but I wasn’t sure if I was able to make a change. Today, I have news.
I started talking to Mrs. Tater way back in June about the possibility of me leaving my job. I was unhappy before the pandemic. I was even more stressed and unhappy during the time I was working completely from home. I knew then that things would not be great for me when I did return to in-person work. I was correct. Most of what I liked about work was gone. All of what depressed me about work was still there and magnified. I started to feel physically ill at the thought of a new work week. I was depressed. I started going to therapy to deal with it. I knew deep down I would never get right while in this situation.
I had talked to my wife several times about it. I had pretty much given up hope of her being on board with me leaving my job with no landing spot. It is a giant leap of faith for someone to be OK with losing part of the household income for an undetermined amount of time. I wrote up a plan for how i would spend my days and how I would try to spend my “sabbatical” trying to write something that could be profitable. I did admit that I am 99% sure that I will not find a way to make money writing, but at least I would have the opportunity to know for sure. Then there were weeks of nothing. I would occasionally ask about the email and she would say she had not had a chance to consider it. I was losing all hope.
Sunday evening we went for our daily walk. I decided to bring it up one last time as I was already getting more and more stressed out about the end of the weekend. As we walked and talked she surprised me by saying that she agreed that leaving my job was the best thing for me to do. I made sure several times that she was really saying what I thought she was saying. She was telling me to leave my job. I called my kids when we got back to the house and they were both happy and in support of my decision. I texted my brother and sister to tell them. They were also happy and supportive. I told a small circle of my friends. Same story. I guess they all understood how unhappy I was.
So, Monday morning, while feeling like I was going to vomit, I wrote and sent my letter of resignation to my boss and HR. After 25 years with the same organization and years of doing the safe thing I took a leap to the unknown. As of December 12 I will officially have no job. I am taking a chance on myself that I will find the right place for me moving forward and that I have not doomed myself to never finding another job.
I woke up this morning already stressed and anxious before my day really even started. My dog woke me up around 6AM as usual. I tried to go back to bed and get more sleep since I am working the 4-8 shift at work tonight. I think I dozed a little, but I can’t turn my mind off enough to go back to sleep once I’m awake. It starts to drift to things that will make it hard for me to relax. I’ve been officially out of bed since around 7:30.
It probably doesn’t help that besides making coffee my first two things I do are turn on the news and read the newspaper. Maybe it is time to break my news addiction and do something different with my morning coffee. I did read a little bit and I did my morning word puzzles. It did not help settle my mind. All of the coronavirus news mixed with the stress and anxiety that work brings has me on edge all the time.
Since my day ends at 8 today it shouldn’t start until 12. One of the stresses of my life is people who don’t respect personal time. I already got a call this morning before 10. It was one of those “I sent you an email so now I’m calling to tell you to read your email” calls. Those are always fun. There was at least recognition that I am not on the clock once I mentioned I was in the branch 4-8 tonight, but I still felt obligated to read and respond to the email. It’s really hard to beat the stress and anxiety when there is no guarantee of personal time free from calls. It’s time for another mention to my wife that I need to quit and find a new direction in life. Maybe if I keep it up she will eventually agree. This is not a sustainable life.
I will be on vacation for a week after Monday. I may deactivate my social media. I will likely disappear from the blog during that time. Since I will be with the only people who I care to be in contact with I might leave my phone on do not disturb the entire time. I need a break from the world.
I’ve mentioned a few times on here about my struggle with focusing on a book. There are several other changes in the way I occupy my mind during these times. Here are some ways the way I spend my time has changed recently(besides the obvious part that I spend all of my time in my house.
Reading – I am still reading. I actually finished a book over the weekend. It just takes me a lot longer to finish a book these days. I also find myself skimming the books more. I just can’t get absorbed in a book the way I used to. It’s possible this started before the quarantine as my reading had already slowed. This has just made it worse. It’s hard to get absorbed in a book when I have trouble getting my mind off of the stress and depression of the current situation. Maybe I should go back to one of my favorite books and see how that goes.
TV – I have watched a lot of TV since we’ve all been at home. The biggest issue here is that we don’t all watch the same shows. I need to find more shows to watch alone and we need to find more shows that all of us want to watch. My DVR is still almost full because there are a ton of shows that just me and my wife watch and we never have time to watch them now. I have noticed that I prefer shows that are lighter now and need less focus. We are watching some old seasons of Survivor. It’s fun watching them again with my daughter and they are easy to watch without thinking. I watch the news less because the last thing I need is more of my mind on the pandemic. I haven’t watched John Oliver the last three weeks for the same reason. We are watching shows like Community because they are fun and light and that’s what we need right now.
Sleeping – My sleep pattern is pretty much the same. I wake up too early every day and that leads to me being sleepy earlier than everyone else. Sometimes I try to stay in the room while others are watching TV late and sleep on the couch for a while. Others seem to stay up much later now. I’m too old for that.
Movies – We do occasionally watch a movie, but I think movies are suffering the same as books. It’s easier to focus on a short TV show than a long movie, A nice, short comedy like Stuber is preferable over a long, dramatic movie right now. I think I need to watch some of my sports movies I love like Glory Road and Remember the Titans.
Walking – I take the dog for a walk every day the weather cooperates. Before all of this, I would sometimes be lazy and skip walks. Now it takes major rain to stop me from going on the walk I did take a lazy day yesterday and used the weather as an excuse. I regretted it at the end of the day.
Social Media – I’ve unfollowed people on both Twitter and Facebook recently because I couldn’t deal with constant rants on either side of the issues. I don’t feel like I post as much as I used to. I might be wrong about that. I try not to look at it as much, but it is a habit that is hard to break. You can find out a lot about people based on what they say during a crisis. Sometimes that is not a good thing.
It might take a while for me to get back to normal after this. My reading might take a while. I think work stress and Depression had already made it hard to focus on reading and since I will continue to work it won’t go away at the end of the crisis. It will just be more because of my personal crisis, not a worldwide one. I need to learn to turn my brain off and stop dwelling on the bad. I have never been able to do that so you can imagine what it’s like during times like these. Turning off the news has helped. Avoiding certain people on social media has helped. Focusing on positives and hope has helped. I am a work in progress.
My daughter was supposed to study abroad in Italy this fall. We are pretty sure that won’t happen, but the school still has not confirmed they are canceling study abroad and keep pushing back the dates for a decision. Due to the fact that she was going to study abroad, she did not apply for housing on campus right away. She also missed the time frame to get housing in campus apartments. Once she knew study abroad likely wouldn’t happen, she applied for the apartments and filled out the housing application for on-campus housing.
She has confirmation that Commons(the school-owned apartments where all of her friends are living) is full.
Today she got the email that she does not have a dorm room either.
It appears the university doesn’t care that she was behind schedule because of a drastic change in her situation and the study abroad program likely being suspended.
I guess we will have to find her an apartment off-campus or she can sublet from someone or something but it will not be her optimal situation. It will be difficult to do with stay at home orders.
Add this stress on to health related family stress the past week and I’m done.
It’s been over a week since I posted about my trip to Kentucky. I’ve thought about at least doing my weekly posts, My Week in Books, Movies and TV and What’s Good in Tater Town, but never got to the point of opening the laptop. I may be wrong, but I feel like I’m posting less on my personal Facebook page. I still look at social media a lot, but I’m not as engaged as I used to be. I don’t know if it is the stress or depression or the shorter days but I just feel the need to mostly hibernate and withdraw from the world.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m reading more. I read the new John Grisham book in one weekend. I finished Mobituaries by Mo Rocca. It was very good and allowed me to bore people with odd facts from the book. I’m caught up on more of my TV shows. I’ve watched a lot of football. All good things to help take my mind off of how bad my normal day has become.
I have left the house, My book club went to see a movie in Baltimore and then played Cards Against Humanity. The movie was Parasite. It was very good. I highly recommend it. I would have won Cards Against Humanity but they kept changing the final score needed to win until someone finally passed me. I plan on filing a complaint with the league office. I will leave the house again for book club next month. I also hope to get someone to go to some sort of Christmas lights or market thing with me.
I am hibernating. I’m not staying away from the world completely. I’m just shrinking my circle and trying not to let social media idiots add to my stress. I will try to start posting more here. I just need to decide where I’m going with it so I don’t become the person who just posts about being stressed.