Friday, October 02, 2015

Illegal Apartment Living

This is my last weekend living in this shitty attic apartment that is nowhere near up to code and is probably illegal.  For the past six years, I....

...could not move my bowels, wipe my ass, and flush the toilet. The plumbing is so inadequate the toilet gets clogged all the time. I need to break down my bodily evacuations into steps to have a functioning toilet. I can only use septic safe toilet paper - and we aren't hooked up to a septic system!

...spent thousands of dollars on heating oil.  The eaves are not insulated so any heat just escapes.  I tried using plastic sheeting to stop the drafts but it made too much noise to sleep.  Most winter nights, I had the heat on, wearing layers,  with a space heater.

---have been screamed at and blamed for any repair I need.  The toilet needed a gasket and bulb replaced - my fault. A pipe burst in my bedroom after a power outage in the winter, my fault.

...haven't been able to take a long hot shower or bath.  The hot water doesn't last more than five minutes in my apartment summer or winter.  I can't wash a big batch of dishes at once.  During bad parts of the winter, I heat bathing water on my stove.

...have had trouble hanging anything on the walls  There is basically no wall, just layer upon layer of crumbling plaster.  Thank goodness for command hooks!

...have been told that the cats smell too much and I should get rid of them every single year.  According to my landlady's son, my cats are ruining the entire building.  This is the same man who trapped poor Rasputin in a room for a day after doing "repairs". This guy also thought my cats eat feces.  He's incredibly intelligent.

... had a pit of dread coming home, never had people over, and anxiety attacks.

For liability reasons, I won't post the link but let me say if you see a Craigslist ad for a Quincy apartment that looks too good to be true, it is.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Technicolor Rollercoaster


October 10 I am moving to Jamaica Plain! I visited potential roommate's apartment last Sunday and it  is simply sweet and gorgeous. It also has central air and heat, a dishwasher, disposal, and in unit laundry. After I scoped the place out, I turned to potential roomie and asked her what did she think and do I get the rose? She said, "Oh yeah, it's basically you." I played coy because I was worried about rushing into a decision just to get out of my shit hole. We sat in the living room, discussed the nitty gritty of sharing, how we shower, food, and then life in general. We wound up talking for 3 hours! Roomie said it was a sign. So I went home, thought for a second, and decided yes. There is another cat so it will be three cats and two humans. At least our remains won't be found come a disaster. Future roomie has a ton of stuff so I'm whittling down what I have. Sayonara mismatched Tupperware and fondue set I used once! I can have a little storage down in the basement so I'm going to stick to a stack of 3 to 4 boxes to store. I booked my good old moving company - Intelligent, Labor, and Moving. They seriously rock. I was told I need to get a moving permit from city hall. I'm not 100% sure what that is but it costs $60. Luckily, I can walk to city hall during a break from work.

This song has been stuck in my head all week:


Wednesday was Yom Kippur and for some reason, it felt really powerful this year. I don't think that was the low blood sugar talking, maybe it is the combination of such political strife and the call to strive to be better. I didn't go to temple but I watched an awesome service from a temple in Cincinnati . I was very moved in parts. One of recitations is something like "Let us strive towards perfection but acknowledge that we'll fall short. The real joy is in trying". I simply love that!

No surprise that work was nuts. I am part of a mentoring program as a mentee. My mentor is so super awesome and supportive. He has a great reputation - in fact I knew of him before I met him. He was the guy who always submitted correct stuff to HR. This might sound dumb but it almost feels like having a big brother at work - I get stupid excited passing him in hallways and have to actively resist the urge to hug him. He really pulled out all stops this week.

Remember how I have mentioned there is a senior position that will be opening up in my department?  That the department director told me that I should apply. Well, I latched onto that dream and excitedly awaited the job posting. Thursday, I was telling Super Boss that recitation about striving for perfection and I ended saying "...and that's why I want to be a senior analyst." He looked at me confused and informed me that I had missed the application deadline. I was stunned standing in his doorway and asked when did it get posted. JULY to AUGUST! Arrrghh! To add insult to injury, he observed, "Yeah, Staffing Lady and I were just saying yesterday that we did not understand why you didn't apply." I responded faintly,"Because I didn't know about it." He face got the red it gets when he's upset and his eyes started to get glisteny so me being me, the oldest, the big sister, pointed at him and ordered him not to feel bad. It wasn't his job to make sure I read every email or walk by the job board. It was all my own damn fault. He started saying, "Maybe I can get Staffing Lady to reopen it --  " I interrupted him not to go above for something that is my own fault. He wailed in frustration, "But I want you to have a chance!" I asked about how to apply and made a beeline to the Ladies room where I full on sobbed in a stall, hand clamped over my mouth making animal noises. I didn't realize all these months of killing myself at work felt worth it if a senior position was out there. I cleaned myself up, went back to my desk to find the job posting email and told Super Boss that I will be tweaking my resume just in case. He responded in such a tired and ashamed voice, "I'm sorry about this."

I was okay until I got home. At home I was a puddle of tears and snot. I was convinced that no Normal would ever miss a job posting, it is only super special Swiss cheese brain me that would. An angel in the guise of my cousin talked me out of that crazy. Apparently, it happens all the time to Normals. I calmed down enough to completely nail my resume and cover letter. I shot an email to my mentor letting him know what's going on and asking him to look at my resume and cover letter. Then came the trying to sleep. I started getting really angry at Super Boss for not saying anything about the job to me. It was his old job fer chrissakes! Why is he so attentive and supportive in other aspects? Cue more negative spiraling thoughts and a midnight call with my brother. Bro pointed out stuff I already knew that Super Boss and I are swamped. That I am viewed as competent and intelligent so why would Super Boss need to say anything? We discussed strategies on how to deal with stuff Friday morning. The rest of the night was me rehearsing what to say, crying because I couldn't calm down enough to fall asleep and doing the dishes. Studies say that if you can't fall asleep, wear yourself out. So I got no sleep Thursday to Friday.

I decided to take the early train to get into the office at 7. I also decided to finish a huge reconciliation process today. My mentor sent me a nice long encouraging email with excellent edit suggestions to my documents.  That made me cry in gratitude or just because my eyes continued to leak. 

Super Boss got in around 9 and asked to talk. I started very good - calmly and flatly asking how do employees find job openings and apply to them. He explained and got briefly defensive about how obvious it is which kicked me into depresso-defensive saying,"Oh obviously, it's all my fault." I could feel my insides shaking so I took a deep breath and explained that I am trying even though I'm very upset, and got no sleep from crying all night. He apologized and I told him that I'm mainly upset at myself. I could feel the tears starting in my eyes so I shakily said that this has been my favorite job but when I walked into the building this morning I started crying. That I don't want to become like Other Analyst - bitter and angry, losing my spirit. Super Boss was in tears and told me doesn't want that either. Then my temper ticked up and I said pretty accusingly, "Well, why didn't you say something about the senior analyst position?"  He threw up his hands and claimed he assumed I knew. Then I said something that I had just figured out, "When you didn't talk to me about the job, it felt like you didn't think it was a possibility for me. Like why bother?" I also decided to take a step back explaining that my easy default go to when I'm upset is that I'm a stupid worthless piece of shit. You know what he said? "That's a bad place to go but I understand the struggle to get out of it." I tried recapping where we were in the discussion and he explained how the postings work which got me frustrated all over again asking How was I supposed to know this? Why didn't you tell me? Now is when Super Boss got explosively frustrated he snapped/yelled, "I had to remain impartial because I am interviewing candidates! Just as I need to be impartial for X,Y,Z. And you might not even get the senior analyst position!" Yeah, the words read harsh but I had my ah ha moment. He couldn't talk to me about the job because he would be interviewing me! It wasn't lack of faith or support, it's a role he needed to fill. Then I yelled back at him "Why didn't you tell me?" So we got to a really good place. He also pointed out that he won't be lasting much longer at our company and when he leaves, that could open up more positions in our group. Yup. He said the thing I have been dreading for months. Can I just hope for a market crash so no one will hire him? I got word later today that Staffing Lady will allow me to submit my application.

Watch out for that first drop kids, it's a doozy!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Three Gifts

Monday was Rosh Hoshanah and yes I did make it to temple this year. I also chose to make these. I suggest doing the 3 inch circles because 2 inch barely allows any apple filling. I brought a bunch to work and gave them to Baby Analyst and Super Boss Tuesday. I left them on Super Boss' chair and when he came in, he was very confused. Me? I accept baked goods left anywhere!

Tuesday was such a great day because I had designed a billing process, IT built it, and I saw the demo that day. I informed everyone that it felt like Christmas for me. The meeting was very upbeat and verging on silly. The functionality was there and sure there were a couple tweaks but months ago I imagined it. Now it's real! I also had my first session with my new shrink Tuesday and it went very well.

Wednesday was tough because, as my mom reminds me, your body remembers mourning around a death anniversary. I was a student of Mr. Parks for four years and am a proud alumna of the UMass Minuteman Marching Band. My band years taught me so much, exposed me to so many new people and situations. I was allowed to be a leader in an organization with the ultimate leader, GNP. George passed away suddenly on a band trip five years ago. I collected a bunch of his quotes, aka starred thoughts, and posted them on my office door at work. I left a copy for Super Boss and Baby Analyst. Super Boss was yet again confused by another gift on his chair. I explained that who I am and how I tackle things at work is thanks to George Parks.  Super Boss' response, "Wow, he was like a philosopher. You should share these [quotes]."

Thursday was a busy regular old day but I got a call from an employee. I know this employee and kind of dread speaking to her.  I have to be very careful with my word choices and just let her vent at me usually.  So the call started out with the usual venting and my attempts to patiently explain. But the call ended with her telling me that she had been calling our department for months, Michelle was supposed to have been helping her, but now thank goodness for me. I started crying from surprise and I thanked her for what she said.  As Super Boss pointed out, how is it that Michelle was hired with years of Benefits experience and she screwed everything up but here I am with no experience and I'm making things better?  I told him that I know my mother's response to that question.  He laughed.  Thursday evening I saw an apartment that is affordable but in a horrible neighborhood and the realtor was a bit nuts. 

Friday was a shitty shit hole of a day.  I have been given a reporting process for retirements that I just started this month.  The woman who used to do the reporting is in the other department full of incompetent lazy screw ups that I have to reconcile all their work over the years. So, there was an emailed question about this report from Legal for a person who retired in July.  Incompetent Woman responded saying she had no information, just ask me. Um, bitch I didn't even do the report back then!  So, I had to scramble to get the information. Lo and behold, Incompentent Woman screwed up the report back in July and did have supporting documentation. Apparently, adding four numbers together is a stretch.  All of this happened before 9. 

I was also working on approvals and I vaguely remembered that there is something I should watch out for with that kind of approval. I tried to refer to my notes and use my common sense but I did email Super Boss just to double-check.  It turns out I did the approvals right but need to know some other details which he has told me many times. So I got upset about my memory which as you can probably tell from the morning I was having I handled awesomely. I apologized to Super Boss for needing a reminder, called my memory a sieve. He told me he had to remind the other previous analysts about it monthly so it's no big deal. I replied, "Oh, this is tough for Normals not just dummies like me?" Super Boss paused, took a breath, and said, "Don't ever say that." The ridiculous thing is even if I don't say it out loud, I still think it.  Around lunchtime I spoke to an employee struggling with serious health problems and resisting relapsing to drinking. Now, I know why I can't be a social worker because I get overwhelmed with empathy and my inability to help. I was crying in my office for the next couple hours.  Then Super Boss called me to ask me how I was doing. We had a good talk and I felt better. I spoke to an employee's spouse who is his caregiver because he had a stroke.  I could handle that better because I knew what to say.  After work, I met a potential roommate for the first time at South Station.  I don't want to jinx anything but she seems really awesome.

On top of all this, Mercury is in retrograde again. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Overwhelmed By Its Own Greatness

2015 in numerology is a 5 year for me. This is what it means and what is scary accurate:

"Nothing is ever the same from one minute to the next, but change is even more apparent to you in this your #5 personal year. The path you walk this year will not be ordinary. You will make some unexpected turns and you will realize that it is never too late to start over in a more meaningful direction. A conversion from old to new is accentuated under the sign of the “five”. For some, the transformation is more drastic than others. Some of you will change your residence to another area, perhaps even another city. It is more likely that most of you will spruce up the dwelling you are occupying now. A few changes can such a big difference in your living conditions you will wonder why you didn’t do something sooner. One change leads to another so don’t be surprised if you do more than you started out to do. Take advantage of the opportunities to change many other aspects of your life, including business... Sometimes around mid year, you will have an illuminating experience. You will know in your soul that you are heading for something good. You will not be idle... A new phase of your life has started and it can be very good."
Tuesday September 8 was my year anniversary at work. I came in that morning and found a card from Super Boss waiting on my desk. I didn't even mention the anniversary but he remembered - aw! Plus, he took me out for coffee to celebrate. I can't believe how much has changed in one year at work and with me. The job is still a perfect fit and my confidence is getting a lot better as I learn. Guys, I haven't had a weepy breakdown at work for a month! So that's either improved coping skills or the shit I've had to deal with is the same old same old. This week was also when interviews for replacement analysts happened and it sounds like there are a couple solid candidates!
Wednesday night I saw a potential apartment that could be a good fit for me. My only concern is that I don't know the area that well. Guess where I am driving around tomorrow? Thursday I was taken out to lunch by co-workers to celebrate my anniversary. I also was able to let Super Boss vent and hopefully feel better. It was so funny, I was in his office talking over some problem when he said some snarky aside like, "Well, I'm glad someone is feeling better." So of course I put my hand on my hip, cocked my head and asked, "Okay, what does that mean?" He was overwhelmed and had worked until 11:00pm Wednesday night on something where he was given absolutely wrong instructions so all Thursday he was trying to change the deliverable following the new instructions - which made no sense to either of us. So I checked off a Super Boss being human moment this past week too.
Friday went insanely well and felt like a huge turning point for me on the 5 month long billing project. I ran my first meeting which involved three different departments. The last time we had the three departments meet was in March and people were yelling at each other and some walked out. All Friday morning I was ill with nerves (I think this job has either given me an ulcer or IBS I swear...) The department director sat right next to me throughout the meeting and unfortunately it started so awfully. An entire department was missing basically because they have no idea how to accept outlook meeting invitations. When they did arrive they acted like sulky teenagers being dragged to church. But as the meeting got underway, things went well and a lot of consensus was reached. Issues were brought up we had not considered either. Department Director had my back on a lot of tricky points and it felt awesome. The meeting ended with a department manager telling me "Good job" and me asking for advice on a case that had a hilarious resolution if you have a morbid sense of humor like me - the guy is dead. Later that afternoon, Baby Analyst, who does not read this blog, referred to herself as "Baby Analyst". Very weird synchronicity! I was also contacted for a potential roommate situation in the city Friday night. 
To recap, a very good and significant work week, 2 potential living situations, and feeling overwhelmed with a pinch of gratitude.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Super Boss Gets Me

The week is over and holy smokes stuff happened! I am still recovering from an illness unfortunately. Getting back to work wasn't too bad I did get some comments about Super Boss being lucky to have me.

The two of us got slammed with a huge project that has a tight deadline. Poor Super Boss might have to work Monday! Because of this project, a huge deliverable of mine had to be delayed for the second time Wednesday. I got a bit pissy and bitter about how my work isn't important enough. I had a nice venting session with Baby Analyst. She pointed out that caring so much about my work can backfire on me. But on the up side, the department director and Super Boss in our unit meeting declared my deliverable was too important to delay - so I need to keep at it with what time or help? Who knows? I felt a lot better with my work being valued!

Thursday morning, Super Boss came into my office and we had a good chat. He declared that I have been a huge lifesaver this past year and he wouldn't have been able to survive without me. He even told the department director that! Then he assured me that he is trying hard to ensure that I will get a raise. I thanked him and asked him how he is doing since he looked close to passing out. He was completely overwhelmed and actually had to mutter to himself, "don't freak out, keep calm" a couple times! I informed him that I am going to work on a part of the project that is completely broken. He looked like he could finally take a full deep breath.

I felt really ill today unfortunately and didn't get any sleep but I couldn't help but appreciate and find amusing how Super Boss emailed me about some corrections he noticed.  A slightly redacted version of an email I got from Super Boss:

Hi Chokmah,


So up to this point, your compensation approvals have been excellent.  Unfortunately, [X] had some issues.  In many requests, [Y] was missing.  In some the [Z] was also missing.  In one, the [A] was off by $$.  In another the [B] was never corrected.


I don’t know what happened, but I’ll chalk it up to the fact that there were a ton of  requests that came in all at once and these required a correcting of the memo on top of addressing the request.  I know that you can do this and that you know what to do on these, but I am responsible for making sure this is a successful transition for future HR Analysts which means you need to be on top of your game when approving for Comp.  And I know you are great at it because you’ve questioned the exact things you are supposed to on many.  And, yes, these do suck up a lot of time, so I am also aware of that.  You and I are both perfectionists to some degree, so when I tell you to be more careful, I know I don’t really need to.  But I do want to make you aware so that you can be more vigilant for next time...


Isn't that perfect? He didn't want me to spiral and feel discouraged. I have a year under my belt and am pretty confident about my abilities and value at work. Plus, I have this great boss so I can handle anything. I also know I corrected all those things but didn't hit save at the right step.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Clever, Classless, and Free

The funny thing is when you make a huge change in your life and you need everything else to stay the same, everything else never gets the memo. This is week five without Lamotrigine and people tell me that I am doing really well. On some days I believe them and on other days, I feel like I am crumbling inside. I didn't get my dream apartment and got wait listed for the BRA apartment I applied to. This weekend a realtor stood me up for the second time for an apartment viewing and then he basically told me on the phone it is a shit hole. I am meeting a potential room-mate tomorrow and I still have Taunton in my back pocket.

The reprieve from being homeless or losing my cats didn't turn off all the stress and anxiety I had been feeling like a light switch. For a while I was barely getting four hours of sleep. When I wasn't sleeping, I was trolling Craigslist for places to live or looking at my two cats thinking, "If I gave them away, life would be so much easier." which made me feel so horrible and guilty for even allowing the thought to happen so I'd cry and hug them.

I can usually handle stress but my body kinda broke from all of it. This past week I went from "Must have eaten something bad." to "I wonder where the appendix is? to "I can't eat that, I need to leave the house." I had two vacation days scheduled Thursday and Friday in the Berkshires but I had to come home early Friday to see my doctor. She had my blood tested in case of infection. Her theory is that I need sleep and I need to decrease my stress levels. To that end, she wrote a letter saying that I should be allowed to keep my cats since they are therapeutic. I'm also taking 3mg of Melatonin this weekend at least. I am feeling a bit better today and I am looking forward to work tomorrow!

Unfortunately, I left work before my vacation on a sour note. I worked on a new report for over an hour and when I paused to give it a sanity check review, things didn't look right. At 5:30 Wednesday I found out I did the report completely wrong. Luckily, it didn't have a deadline and was something that would be helpful for me to do. Since "helpful" is my Pavlovian bell I went all out and I enjoyed working on it like any true data nerd. I wound up getting upset that I wasted my time and produced crap in front of Super Boss. He thought I was upset with him so I tried to explain that it was my own fault and I should have asked more questions before attempting the report. I kind of can't wait until we get more analysts in our group because it's a bit exhausting and weirdly co-dependent with just the two of us. Baby Analyst hasn't been sucked into this mood miasma which makes her an awesome breath of fresh air to talk to. Work tomorrow should be interesting since Super Boss had to tackle a couple weird situations that usually wind up on my plate. I expect to hear "I don't know how you do it." and/or "Thank goodness you're back."

I also want to write about my two cats. This is Rasputin. He is an eight year old purebred Mainecoon. I got him from a breeder as a gift for myself after getting my MBA. He is very talkative and a big snuggler. As you can see from the picture he tries to sleep on my shoulder at night but I am a restless sleeper so I usually find him curled up against my back when I wake up. He has been pretty healthy with one UTI a couple years ago and a heart murmur - which is common in Mainecoons. He is also a great traveller. He's my baby boy and a complete clown furball.

This is Stella. She is an eleven year old tortoiseshell. I adopted her in 2011 from the Quincy Animal Shelter. The first several months were very difficult with her. She hissed, growled, didn't like being petted, and didn't get along with Rasputin. In my head I had imagined two cats licking each other or curled up purring sleeping on each other. That didn't happen. Getting her to the vet cost me a liter of blood every time. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. After surgery, she was a lot friendlier. She is always first to the door to greet people. She loves being petted now and sleeps next to me curled up purring. I think she was probably in pain when I got her and now she is healthy and has stability. She is also Head Butt Queen. I love this little lady!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Stare Into the Light


This past week has been awesome, exhausting, and horrible. In the end, I have been left humbled with gratitude.

Mood alert - I found a therapist who has a neurology background and has the nicest warm laugh. We have our first appointment September 15, my brother's birthday and the day after Rosh Hoshanah. This is week three without any Lamotrigine and it is pretty good. I think I have found my core inner resiliency that let's me feel sad and stress but somehow keeps me together. Work has been pretty busy and crazy. In fact, I wound up handling the craziest day better than Super Boss! I teased him about calling a co-worker incompetent, he hung his head, and admitted it was said in anger. I cherish these moments as examples of Super Boss being human. I also had a good run of asking good questions and making mistakes that turned into good learning opportunities. He also pointed out a "tell" I have. It's so funny, we spend so much time together we can read each other like a book.  We would be awesome as con artists. He was asking me if I needed help and it was 5:30 on a Friday and I hadn't sat at my desk for 30 minutes so I ran my hands through the hair at the top of my head and said "I'm fine." Which was a tell for him.

I used a comp day to take Wednesday off. It was muggy in the upper 80's so my mom, brother, and I went to Nantasket Beach. We were in Trader Joes grabbing lunch items when I got a phone call from my land lady's son who told me that:

1. The cat urine stink has permeated the house
2. I need to get rid of the cats by Sept. 1
3. Or I need to move

On my day off in the middle of the grocery store. I admit that the high humidity and heat helps no odors and the main scoop free litter box needed a replacement. I called the guy back asking if I hired cleaners could I stay. He started ranting about the stink and my brother had just visited last weekend saying how non-smelly the place was. So I asked bro to explain that to land lady's son. It was awkward and horrible. My brother announced that he had to hang up on him after asking, "Are you serious?" multiple times. My beach day was fun and also spoiled by the whirling panic from this situation. But I was able to talk out options with my mom and brother which calmed me down. It was my brother's first time at Nantasket and he loved it. It is seriously my favorite beach - friendly people, variety of ages and body types, plus really cool waves. I got home and there was a letter from land lady's son which said I had until October 1 to vacate if I didn't get rid of my cats.

I have been casually looking for new places to live so this just set a deadline. Plus, my family, friends and co-workers all really rallied to help me. That first night I cried just from gratitude that I have surrounded myself with such generous kind people. I stared at my ceiling and just sent thanks to the universe. So, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday night I barely slept because I was trolling craigslist for apartments, imagining giving up one of my cats, and having racing brain.

Friday a high school friend tried to hook me up with a friend who is also looking for a place. This potential roomie sounded awesome. We totally hit it off but I was bringing 2 cats to her 1 which ultimately fizzled the potential team up. I really fell in love with the idea of a roommate and the money I'd save. Boo.

Today, I had an apartment viewing for a place that is a two bedroom. It's two because the one bedroom can only fit a full size bed. The second bedroom is for your dresser. Ugh! Then land lady's son showed up at my apartment telling me he is willing to work with me and not throw me out Oct. 1. So, I need to do a big cleaning for Sept. 1 inspection and then my rent will increase $125 Oct. 1. I was so relieved, I started crying. Land lady's son's wife talked him down from his tantrum apparently. Yeah, I am still looking for a place. Someplace convenient to the train under an hour to Boston and cat friendly. I think I will be able to sleep tonight.