Thursday, July 02, 2015

Szerencses Reconaissant Durchgefuhrt

I don't think there are words in the English language to describe this past week. It was so good, I branched out to French, Hungarian, and German.

For almost a year I have been dealing with an odd constellation of symptoms that my primary care doctor couldn't pin down so I got a referral to an endocrinologist. My personal theories were PCOS or hypothyroid. Back in March I did a big series of blood tests and a 24 hour urine collection. I had to reschedule my May endocrinologist appointment because work became crazy. I finally had my appointment this week and everything was ruled out except a medication I am on. Plus the endocrinologist said, "At least it isn't a tumor." So, unbeknownst to me, that was a possibility!!!! And I cancelled the May appointment with a possible brain tumor. I am so glad this is news to me when it isn't a tumor. The up side is I don't like the medication I'm on so titrating off would be a relief. Yeah, anti-convulsants suck, hello SSRIs!

Monday, with the help of Super Boss, I was able to figure out how not to be upset about a couple errors I made last month. The key is to put it in context. Super Boss caught the mistakes and just let me know with zero judgement. All the judgement was in my head. So he shut my office door, sat down, and talked me through my crazy. I remembered what was going on when I made the mistakes. Four errors out of everything else I did right in the midst of the shit show around me, is pretty much a win. Huzzah conquering a big psychological hurdle! It's all about perspective. When I thanked Super Boss at the end of the day, he said I've done the same for him. Yup, propping up each other's sanity should be put on our resumes. I think mistakes should still bug me but not to the point where I get so upset I doubt myself. 

We have an Analyst II on our team who started mid-May but she is still working her old administrative job since the whole department is so understaffed. I'll call her Baby Analyst. I really love her and when she is able to help us out or sit with us to learn, I can see how overwhelming it is for her but she is picking up a ton.  It's also a lot of fun for me because I enjoy training people and she seems to enjoy learning from me. This week, she seriously stepped up to the plate work wise and saved our bacon.  I have tried to pass along her frustration over being half an analyst to Super Boss. He got LIVID when I told him that Baby Analyst got roped into covering the front desk for lunch. I think that being a teacher isn't just passing along knowledge, it's also looking out for student/trainee. So, when Baby Analyst got upset about making a mistake, I passed along perspective. 1 mistake out of thousands of data fields with both of us not catching two inverted digits. Walk it off.

Wednesday, there was a huge process deadline that affected thousands of employees. Three departments were involved in testing Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday was all in production. No pressure! At around 7:00, there was a huge issue discovered but since Super Boss and I were the only people left at work, we couldn't get it fixed immediately. But thanks to Super Boss asking to make sure that all the work I was doing was in production not test, I came up with a solution for that night. I was clutching my head laughing saying, "You do not ask me if I'm working in test at this time of night" If I had spent hours adjusting thousands of employees in the wrong environment, men with nets and a straight jacket would be called! We worked until 9:00 and Super Boss offered me a ride once we got back to his place - saving me a dicey walk to South Station in the rain and getting me home earlier.  Super is the same in English, German, Finnish etc. So Super Boss earned his pan-lingual super status!

He has a really nice condo and I got to meet his wife again. The embarrassing thing is one of the side effects I mentioned above is really bad sweating and that night was 100% humidity so I had beads of sweat running down everywhere while I stood in his nice home chatting with his wife. Maybe some of it could pass as rain drops? I discovered that Super Boss has horrible sense of direction. He lives one town over from me and grabbed the GPS. I said, "Oh you just need to hop on 93." Super Wife shook her head and leaned over stage whispering, "He's horrible at directions." Ha! Since Quincy doesn't have a hospital, Super Boss randomly announced "Erectile dysfunction" on the drive. There are signs posted everywhere for the Emergency Department that is the leftovers of Quincy Medical Center. Very weird and funny tangent. 

Thursday everything was done and every goal was met. I have a mason jar in my office that has about a dozen green decorative stones. Each stone signifies a win. Something we're proud of or something that went right. I feel like this huge process going well deserves something more than a green decorative stone. So this weekend we'll grab a stone from wherever we celebrate the Fourth and put it in the jar. We did extremely well this week!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Supernatural Superserious

Super Boss was on vacation for three days the week before last. In those three days I was in charge of a quarterly process that had been migrated to our HRMS system for the first time. I had just seen this process from a data entry/auditing perspective twice offline using Excel. So, needless to say, I was freaking the fuck out and stressed. I also resolved not to email Super Boss while he's away to encourage his actual being away-ness, Dude has checked his work email from his own honeymoon! Three days of stress and being on the phone with IT for hours later, it was done. Impacting hundreds of employees across the organization.

The department chief this same week encouraged me to apply for the senior analyst position that will be posted - the same position Super Boss had before he became Super Boss! So, for all of you keeping score out there, in the past year I have gotten a job that is a perfect fit, got an amazing boss four months ago, and am being encouraged for a promotion! I also was asked out by a random 59 year old employee. It was flattering yet very awkward. I have a fake ring now in my desk to throw on for future walk-ins.

That process I was in charge of? There were only 3 errors and I got a high five from Super Boss when he got back. This past week was time for both of us to stress out about fiscal year end deadlines. We decided to split the workload by type. This has been kind of awesome knowing that I can actually help and lessen the burden in our department. Super Boss has been in tears a couple of times in my office the last couple of weeks. Maybe that's why we work well together? We both get overwhelmed with different breaking points but find comfort in similar ways. I call it "talking out the crazy".

Also, this past week has seen huge swings in temperature and humidity which means a lot of pain for anyone dealing with injuries/nerve damage. Monday was the worst day for me. It was so exhausting dealing with my left hand/arm going completely numb plus my right foot and leg losing feeling and strength. The arm/hand issue was lingering nerve damage from my 2012 car accident. The foot and leg were sciatica due to a bone spur in my spine from my discectomy in 1997, I believe. Or it could be my sneakers crapping out with a sole worn down so badly I am supinating almost 45 degrees.

My brother got to meet Super Boss Wednesday night. Bro swung by the office before we went to a show. There was a moment between the two guys that was hilarious. It was a perfectly choreographed switch from saying really nice things about me to really on-point teasing. If I had a roast, those two would be openers.

Friday, June 05, 2015

The Dark Place

Ever start a week finding out a computer server melted over the weekend crashing the company's HCM system? Yeah, that was an omen. Plus there was a full moon this week. 

I had a full on break down at work Thursday - body shaking sobbing and Super Boss offering to let me go home for the day. It was a long time coming and there is no fix but I was heard and understood. 

The biggest factor, besides working long hours and not sleeping for two months, is the account billing system I inherited after Fuck Up Analyst left. I am the only person who spends hours a day working on it: fixing years of mistakes over hundreds of accounts, on the phone with pissed off employees with the shame knowing the entire system has been broken for years and Fuck Up Analyst was a complete asshole to employees. I had a huge deadline Thursday. I am also very achievement oriented and "doing my best" means I will achieve perfection while surpassing expectations. There is only 24 hours in the day and I have absolutely no help at work. Super Boss wants to help but he's in the same boat and doesn't have the knowledge I have amassed over the past nine months.

As I was sobbing in my office, after I had declared that I had put my life on hold for this job and I felt like I was being pushed off the glass cliff, Super Boss asked over and over, "How can I help?" He has also been having a horrible week thanks to the server meltdown. So he was next to tears seeing me cry. He observed, "I knew it was bad, but I didn't know it was THIS bad!" As a way to halt my spiraling, he crouched in front of me and pointed out all the things I have achieved then ordered me to leave at 5:00 that night. Yeah, he doubly earned the title of Super Boss. I even told him about that nickname! I'm training him on the account billing system now. That was the only way I could think he could help.

Friday was a lot better - a burden had been lifted and feelings were validated/expressed. As I was training Super Boss, I thanked him. He told me he had been to The Dark Place last year. I sighed, "Man, I had no idea how dark it can get." He wound up working until 10:00 Thursday night which was horrible and I chastised him about it. But he got sucked into trying to fix an account calculation query that has been apparently wrong for over a decade. He was trying to fix another broken system on my plate and as usual, found out it has been completely wrecked. He was trying to help me. If I break Super Boss or send him to The Dark Place, it will be awful

I am working on having a life outside of work now. I am seeing two comedy shows this summer and have four vacation days booked. Oh yeah, getting vacation days approved after a breakdown at work is CAKE! Plus some low level apartment searching can happen. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

It's All Catching Up

The toll of two months of 50+ hour work weeks have finally crashed around my ears. I worked Memorial Day with the idea that it would help make the rest of the week more bearable. It didn't. This week was unbearable. Every night, I got home after 9 with barely enough energy to have dinner before I went to bed. I wound up hurting my knee somehow walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

On the up side, Super Boss and I were able to test and implement three salary plans this week. Two plans were just adjusted but the third was created from scratch. That hasn't happened in over a decade!

One night, Super Boss suggested that I look out the window to the hotel of the endless parade of naked people in front of windows. I laughed and said no. He insisted a small child was learning to walk. I gave him a "Really?" look and told him I am not that gullible (even though I totally am and he knows it). It was a good laugh and extra funny if you could hear what we were saying out of context.

Thursday wound up being a weepy day. The day started so well with Super Boss saying that he was really happy that I am a part of the team and that it is a comfort to him.  I just thought hearing a sad song in the morning in my office made me misty. That just set up a theme. In the afternoon I had an hour long difficult phone call with an employee where I had to apologize over and over for the mistake from Fuck Up Former Analyst. For years employees have not paid for certain benefits and now that I'm fixing processes, they are getting bills. This employee completely tore into me. Super Boss must have heard a portion of the call because after I hung up, he came into my office shaking his head "Wow, how has your day been?" I dissolved into tears. He helped by pointing out that all my hard work is definitely showing positive results for the company.

Friday was Super Boss' weepy day. He had worked until 10 Thursday night and was in at 7 Friday. Friday was my flip the fuck out day. It all started with a mass email thanking me and HR Chief for all our hard work on employee reconciliations. HR Chief is not at all involved or has done anything. It is just me every month cleaning up years of mistakes for hundreds of employees. That put me in a mood. Super Boss sauntered into my office thinking the email was a good joke. I did my flat voice thing saying,"No it's just me" and then I listed in a not so calm manner all the other projects that are just me. This is not news to Super Boss - it's just the two of us. His shoulders drooped with everything I listed and he asked, "How can I help?" I threw up my hands and said "Hire somebody". He changed tactics by asking "What can I do?" I didn't have any idea so he left me to mull it over. I sat in my office for a couple hours listening to classical music, thinking and working when it finally hit me. I went to Super Boss' office and asked, "So, when you told me that you were worried that I will burn myself out, did you mean that?" He told me about his burn out last year and he got so choked up, he needed to switch topics. He totally gets it because we're basically the same in work ethic and crazy need for perfection or a check mark. As I said in his office, we just need a "Toe hold".

The end of June will be the same level of madness but at least we have a couple weeks to recover and recharge. I am taking a vacation day June 26 for a cookout in Western MA. I'm also seeing TJ Miller June 17 and Eddie Izzard in August. Scheduling in fun is key to have something to look forward to. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Ides of May

Taking last Friday, May 8, off from work was a great decision! Unfortunately, the weather did not go along with my plans. So, I froze my butt off on Nut Island and sat in my car at Wollaston Beach. This gave me a lot of time to think and sort through life. I had been freaking out about Super Boss possibly leaving the company. He's young and has four years under his belt so it became a running joke between us,  "Hey, I just gave notice.", and/or way to voice anxiety. But with every joke came an underlying panic that this could really happen. It affected my sleep and had me close to tears with worry. So on May 8, I decided to not let "what if's" distract me from the here and now. I'll just learn, do good work, and enjoy having Super Boss as a guide.

I also went back to my roots at work. My first job out of college was at a non-profit that had a lot of mailings so at least once a month, all the assistants would get together in a conference room and stuff envelopes. We called it a "mailing party". It was a ton of fun and really bonded everyone - I wound up with lifelong friends from that job. So, I had a mailing party at my current job - just Super Boss and I stuffing envelopes and cracking wise until 7:30 at night. We were told at one point that we were making a ruckus and I thought, "Ahhh... Mailing Party strikes again!" Super Boss is a fellow Game of Thrones book reader and he told me there was a Winds of Winter chapter released about Arya called "Mercy". But it has been taken down from every site Google can find. If you know where I can find it, please comment!

I have been getting a lot of support and recognition from co-workers and managers so that helps a ton hearing "Good job." and pats on my back. Just today, the payroll manager told me, "Everyone down there thinks you're doing great." Aww!  Now, it's just me, Super Boss, and a new analyst II left in our department. We had a group training session Wednesday and it felt really good. We definitely click as a team. Super Boss and I were having a meeting in my office yesterday when a manager found us and said, "Ahh the analyst group!" We snorted and I said, "More like a pair - just enough for a tandem bike." Super Boss added, "And we're about to crash."

Today was the day that I knew was long coming. Both Super Boss and I were having a shitty day and were in moods. With so few people in our department, mood has a huge impact. But I saw what was going on, used all my decades of therapy fu to pull myself together, and offered my help with the mountainous workload on Super Boss' wearying shoulders. I got to help with work I really enjoyed so that was a bonus! Then we had our usual 4:00 tete a tete and since we were so tired, the mood was a lot lighter. He said at one point, "I'm glad you said X because I was thinking the same thing. It gives me hope for when I leave here." My response, "Well, I will just have to stop learning so you can never leave!" I would love to go one week without these jokes damnit! These meetings are very productive, I learn a ton, and we wind up talking about everything under the sun. This week I found out "This is Where I Leave You" is on HBO ( really good movie BTW), discussed Foucault's History of Madness, and 5 Wishes end of life documentation. Plus, we learned that both of us are really gullible so it has been hilarious trying to fool each other. I had him convinced construction around our office was unearthing another time capsule. Today's discussion was how if we worked near a black hole and had to deliver results to people not near the black hole, we would be able to have more than 24 hours in our day.

I have decided to put moving on hold since work has been so crazy. I won't have the time to look for an apartment let alone pack up and move. So, the fall/late summer is my goal. Also, there is a rumor that there might be a raise in the future so that could have a huge impact on my search.

My brother has been key in making sure I have a life outside of work. We saw the new "Avengers Age of Ultron" (I agree with the Black Widow storyline complaints and LOVE the Vision). We also saw the RiffTrax live broadcast of "The Room". SO GOOD - I was in tears laughing.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Arbeit Macht Frei

My life has become about basically 90% work. I have no one pressuring me to work late hours or overtime but the workload and various deadlines stretch the space-time continuum. Who decided a day lasts 24 hours? I have a bone to pick with them!

Sunday 4/26 - I had to work because I had a deadline to calculate and enter billing for 60 employees in almost 300 plans over 5 years. It wasn't too bad. I sucked down Dunks while blasting music getting into the data entry zone. I did get a bit freaked out when the thumping I heard turned out to be someone else in the next department working as well. The Winter Soldier soundtrack made me feel very heroic while I calculated deductions. 5 hours worked and a comp day earned.

Monday 4/27 - a pistachio kind of day. On top of all the broken processes and work that hasn't been done, that I have been able to make my peace with, a whole other reporting reconciliation that was neglected for 3 months was discovered. Yes. Another one. It was seriously not a huge or complicated task but segue to me freaking the fuck out in Super Boss' office. There were tears and he assured me this new report is very low on my priority list. We met afterwards for two hours reviewing an employee account that made no sense. A lot of clutching our heads and asking, "What the hell happened?" and adding up any little amount to try to explain variances. 10 hour day.

Tuesday 4/28 - I was a bit embarrassed about my emotional Monday so I avoided Super Boss in addition to being a huge asshole to everyone. Part of me kept asking internally "What are you doing?" as the pettiest passive aggressive bullshit spewed from my mouth. I got a lot done since I knew I should not be around people. Super Boss had a question for me in his office. I came over to his side and saw on the computer screen a mistake I had made Sunday. So, you can probably guess how that went over. I felt upset that I made a mistake so I told him that he was right. I probably fucked everything up from Sunday. He got very stern/disappointed saying that he wished I did not use that kind of language about myself. I tried to be nonchalant since I could feel I was getting upset and backed out of his office saying that I'll fix it. He asked me what was wrong and this is what I said, "Oh we don't need to do this. You've had to deal with enough of me the past two days." That kicked off this back and forth where I complained about being an emotional mess (aka an unprofessional woman). He started pacing telling me how much I have accomplished that he knows and has seen what I am capable of. He just doesn't know how to make me see it. Needless to say, we hugged it out and had a sane/calm discussion about other work matters. I have to say, that was one of the kindest most supportive ways to bolster me up while dealing with my crazy self doubts. I get a little verklempt remembering it. 10 hour workday.

Wednesday 4/29 - I made sure early in the morning to thank Super Boss letting him know how much his patience and support helps. He said this really cool thing that all the strategies/habits I have picked up through other jobs and also as a way to help myself after my stroke basically has made me the perfect fit for my job. So yeah, stars really aligned landing me this gig! This was the kind of day where a meeting cancellation is as welcome as a shot of lidocaine. I had to delay almost every deliverable due to a huge reporting project, an initial analysis of messed up employee account. Super Boss and I have this thing where we scold each other "Go home!" every time we see each other working late. 10 hour workday.

Thursday 4/30 - a big accounting/finance and filing day. Around lunchtime this is how well Super Boss knows me - Email subject: Come to My Office. The first line in the email body: You're not in trouble. Well, the only other analyst besides me in our group gave notice. If work was a movie, it would be a dark comedy. I will be the only analyst in our group starting in mid-May. The end of the day into evening was three hours trying to craft a report for that nonsensical employee account. And holy shit Super Boss is human! He got so frustrated he whacked his keyboard, swore, and yelled at the data on the computer screen. It seriously did not make sense and is five years old so it's all guesswork on what people were thinking. So, ha! I got to be the calming sane one with suggestions on how to approach the problem and verbalizing needs. We wound up being so worn out we had to leave the report at good enough after running the gamut of pivoting the data, calculating, and formatting. 12 hour workday

Friday 5/1 - I could not sleep because my mind was still trying to perfect that damn report. I got three hours of sleep. A bunch of projects were completed today and Big Decisions were handed down on policy. One of the Big Decisions was so poorly verbalized Super Boss and I were staring at each other in a meeting with "Are you fucking kidding me" faces. I had to talk to an employee about his screwed up account which went poorly and was frustrating for me to have to explain how broken the system is. I also met Super Boss' wife! 10 hour workday.

Side note. Our offices face a hotel and sometimes people walk around naked in their hotel room with the blinds open. Super Boss thinks it's funny and my first reaction is "Ew, no" I think that is part embarrassment on the person's behalf and the other part knowing that I don't want to see naked people while I'm in business casual. You know? I want nudity in my home. Not surrounded by Xerox machines and filing cabinets.

For those of you fearing for my health and sanity, I am taking May 8 off. This weekend is all about Avengers Age of Ultron.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Many Good Things, Little Sleep

The past four weeks have been a whirlwind of STUFF HAPPENING. The biggest impact is a co-worker left my analyst group so I inherited her duties and her office. Having an office is fabulous - I've been stuck in cubicle land for ten years so I feel like I have arrived professionally. That's the positive of my co-worker moving on. There have been several downsides to her departure such as:

1. She did not do any work for the past several months.
2. She broke entire reports by keying over linked Excel formulas.
3. She did not file, just shoved paper into drawers.
4. She alienated an entire department thanks to her shitty attitude/work ethic.

The first week without her was the slow dawning horror of the above. But there is an up side to all this. The alienated department is so happy to be rid of her, they have been going out of their way to help me. My fellow analysts are aware of the massive cleanup I need to do and have been very helpful with tasks and allowing me to freak the fuck out. There's just three of us so it feels like wartime bonding in the trenches.

My boss has been quite simply amazing through all this. We spent nights in my office going through "files" getting frustrated, speechless, then slap happy with stacks of unpaid bills and dusty procedure manuals. I was in tears at a couple points from being overwhelmed and he helped by talking through what we could do next. That is a very important pronoun - we. He tries to make sure - I - get credit for accomplishments. But if there's a crisis or question, - we - tackle it. I also got a really great mid-year review with helpful feedback. I love one of his suggestions. With my learning quirks post brain damage, sometimes I reach an upper limit on information I can absorb, anything above that limit is static so my thinking gets stuck. Super Boss suggested having a word so he'd know what was going on and how to help. I asked skeptically, "What? You mean like pistachio?" He explained what he meant so our word is pistachio. It's odd enough, a good laugh could jolt my thinking back into gear. Having a boss who values my work, my thinking, and supports me has been transformative. Despite the workload, never ending cleanup, and the long hours, I am engaged and happy at work!

In the midst of all this, I am looking for a new apartment. I've toured 5 places. I applied to 1 place but I didn't get it due to timing. I'm looking any place that is near a commuter rail station that gets me to Boston under 60 minutes. I really liked Lowell. Attleboro looks horrible but it's so darn affordable! Taunton is also affordable but heroin. Weymouth would be nice but I haven't found anything within my budget. Luckily, I just need to give 30 days notice to move - month to month lease baby!