the first time

The first time it happened, it was in May — it started with a mild swelling on my jaw that looked like a mosquito bite. The mild swelling got worse hour by hour, increasing in size and level of pain. By the end of the day my face looked like I had been in a fight or something. The swelling was so bad that my mouth looked deformed. And it hurt, a lot.

I hardly got any sleep that night… every time I turned around I hit my face, felt excruciating pain, woke up and stayed awake for another while. Then I fell asleep, turned around and… over and over.

I greeted the next day early at my doctor’s office. I’ve had the same doctor for more than five years and I think I’ve only been to his office a dozen times or so, including earlier this year when I went in for a physical. For me to go to the doctor’s office, it had to be serious. And if I hadn’t thought so before, the horrified expressions on the nurses’ faces would have convinced me of that.

Until I spoke to my doctor, however, I really thought that it was nothing big. A minor inconvenience, something that looked bad, but that’s all. He didn’t agree.

He gave me one antibiotic shot, one antibiotic prescription and a lecture about waiting so long to go in, none of which bothered me. And then he did the unthinkable — he told me I couldn’t go to work.

He was very amused by my reaction. I don’t think anyone had ever tried to argue him into allowing them to go to work when they were really sick and had sick leave to cover the absence. All I knew was that I was setting up a two-day photo shoot that began the next day. I absolutely could not afford to take time off. And I didn’t go back to work until Monday.

We still don’t know what started it, but it became an abscess infection. When I returned to my doctor’s office, two days later, he told me that if I hadn’t shown improvements he would have been forced to check me in to the hospital so they could hook me up to antibiotics via IV. It was that serious.

I won’t go into the pain and the medication and the oozing and the scars that made me sulk for days. It took a few weeks to recover completely — weeks I spent with a bandage on my face. And the stupid thing left a scar. But it went away. Eventually.

The one lingering thing that I really hated was that my business manager made me claim every single sick hour. If I had an 8 a.m. appointment with my doctor that made me get into work at 69 a.m., she made me claim an hour even though I was there until 7 or 7:30 that evening, the day before and the day after. Talk about upset! I don’t think the illness itself upset me that much.

Next comes the second time.

emotional response

I hate my job.

This is what it’s come to. I went from not really wanting to work here to being overwhelmed to being in pre-burnout to hating my job.

Lovely.

And so I’m sitting here, pretending to work, really just taking a chance to vent. And I can’t talk about it. Not in any great detail. Because the moment I let one thing slip, give out information that I really shouldn’t have, I just know that that’s when I’ll get myself into trouble.

Paranoid, I know. But I’m at a place where paranoia is a good thing.

Overworked and underpaid is a slogan many workers have these days. I don’t care what job we’re in, what lifestyle we have or what our personal situations are – nobody feels appreciated for all that we do in the workplace.

I’ve changed things a little. In my job I used to work 10 and 12 hour days frequently. I’ve scaled that back to an average of nine a day out of sheer self-defense. I used to come in on the weekends to get caught up with all the stuff I didn’t get finished during my regular 50 to 60-hour workweek. I’ve stopped doing that too. I was taking work home to edit, review, and brainstorm as I sat on the couch in front of the television or at the kitchen table and pretended to listen to my family. That’s another practice I’ve stopped doing.

I haven’t scaled back on my time investment in work because my doctor told me to take it easy, though he did. In fact, his exact words at my last physical were “find another job.”

My sinus headaches have gotten worse, which my doctor attributes to stress. This year alone I’ve had two abscess infections, one on my jaw and one in my elbow. Though those can’t be attributed directly to stress, he thinks that lack of sleep weakened my immune system enough that the infections became worse than they would have been. And, of course, I’m not sleeping at night, which makes me groggy in the morning. Normally not a morning person to begin with, having the handicap of sleep-deprivation is not helping.

I eat at weird hours of the day because our major disasters happen between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and then after 4:30 p.m. I’m out of the house before 7 a.m. and usually not back until after 7 p.m., assuming I come directly from work.

My doctor told me that I need to get out before I screw up my health beyond what’s going on now. And he looked very serious when he said it.

I haven’t scaled back on my time at work because I miss my family, though I do. In fact, although my family lives with me, I hardly ever see them. If Arianna weren’t there to take care of the “wife” details (my brother’s school functions, my Dad’s nursing home visits, my Mother’s frequent passive-aggressive needs) I don’t think the arrangement would have lasted as long as it has. But I do miss doing family things with them and I never have the time any more. Or if I do have the time, I’m so wiped out mentally and emotionally that all I want to do is close myself off in my room and not come out for several hours. That’s not really conducive to a close family relationship.

[[Since I started working fewer hours, I’ve actually had time to do stuff like go to the museum, watch a movie, go shopping, and have dinner with them.]]

I’ve stopped spending every waking hour at work mostly because I can’t stand to be there any more. My boss was fired. Her boss was pushed out. Though I get along well enough with my new boss, the atmosphere at work now is suffocating me. Nothing we do is good enough, fast enough, responsive enough, or effective enough. I have so many projects on my desk that many of them are getting shelved just to deal with the day-to-day crisis stuff.

When I first came to work here I thought that I wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure, the workload, the pace, but I did and I adapted well. No we’re two people short and our project list seems to multiply overnight and we’re in a campaign year and we’re still recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit the city and I don’t think I’m gonna make it another month, let alone to the end of the year.

I want so badly to find a nice boring job to regain some of my sanity. I need to find something where I can still make the same amount of money, or more, and have about half the workload. I need to go work somewhere where political consultants don’t get to go behind us, criticizing everything we create, establishing the standards by which we are judged, though they have more personnel and get paid at least four times as much as we do. I need a job where there’s actually money for stuff like graphic designers and printing and mailing, where every single phone call we make isn’t up for public scrutiny, where we don’t suspect that our phones are being listened to and that every person we talk to is a potential threat so we can’t say anything that’s not on the script. Even if I’m at a party or a restaurant I have to assume that I might be overheard, taped or just plain watched.

It’s a ludicrous life. It’s a ridiculous way to live. And I want out.

I feel pretty

Mexico is good for my ego. In the States I’m FAT. On a good day I feel ordinary, less than attractive. Not so here.

I’m walking around in shorts and a sleeveless blouse. Sandals, no nylons, no jewelry, no perfume, no makeup, my hair held up by a clip. I am as bare as I’ll dare on a well-lit day en un pueblito en México. It’s a hot dusty day and my skin is self-hydrating through perspiration. I’m going to need a long cool shower before too long.

Walking around in this minimum essentials getup of mine, I’m still getting more wolf-whistles, compliments and come-ons here than I ever could in Houston (wearing my sexiest dress, 4-inch open-toed black heels, sheer nylons and strategically-placed vanilla-based perfume). I always get a glance or two, a few smiles to let me now that the outfit has been appreciated, but rarely the frank admiration I get here.

After a day here I feel… and I write this knowing that I risk making a statement that collides with my otherwise feminist values… I feel like a girl. I feel pretty and wanted and sexy and sultry and coqueta and just plain nice. I know that I shouldn’t need to feel like that. And I usually don’t. But please don’t expect me to say that I don’t enjoy the reminder, every once in a while, that I have pretty eyes and a nice smile. Especially with as crappy a month as I’ve had.

I gotta go now. I saw some cute guy at la plaza I need to go smile at.

whiny words

Looking at some of the días I’ve posted recently in this site, I think that I should consider renaming this site to something more appropriate. Maybe something like “The Whining World of Sandra” or “Complaints and Useless Rants.” It seems that that’s the only thing I want to give you. I take the bad moods and yucky feelings (of which there have been many) and give them to you to keep for me. Sometimes it makes me feel better. Sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, I’m filling this place with a negative history.

I don’t think of this site as a journal. First of all, it’s not daily. Even if my life were interesting enough to warrant daily updates, I’m not the kind of enterprising person who could keep to updating every single day. My writing style isn’t consistent enough or clear enough to create a journal. This site is more of a collection of individual thoughts and comments connected by a common author than a diary or journal. I know that I don’t explain myself well and sometimes I don’t even give you any of the important details that would help you understand what the hell I’m talking about. And I don’t intend to change the way I do things.

I am vain enough to believe that there are actually some people out there who enjoy reading what I write. I’m vain enough to believe that I’m a good writer, that I fill these pages with words that have some consequence to the nameless, faceless people out in that shadowy cyberspace world we all visit from time to time. I am vain enough to believe that in spite of my blue moods, or maybe because of them, I am still entertaining.

Maybe I should use this as a warning. Readers beware! I’m dipping into my chocolate stashes. Being a recovering chocoholic, the fact that I’m admitting to falling off the wagon (or is that getting back on the wagon?) should prove how deep into depression I’ve been diving. I’ve been distracted at work. I’ve been antisocial and cranky and bitchy and petty and mean. So far, I’ve kept the more depressing stuff from dripping into these pages. I may not be able to do that effectively for long. I find myself daydreaming when I should be paying attention. I find myself wanting to run away. And I especially find myself wondering if I’ve accomplished anything at all and if I ever will.

Wonder why I titled this page whiny words?

Well, that was another useless little rant. I apologize if I’ve depressed you too much.

ON ANOTHER TOPIC: people are beyond redemption! Three weeks ago a woman, new to our department, made a very nice gesture. She brought in an entire line of bath and body products and put them in the ladies’ room. Every time I walked into the restroom I would be greeted with the scents of raspberry, peach and pear hand lotions and soaps. The gesture was made anonymously. They just appeared one day and nobody seemed to know who brought them in or why. It took two weeks of the gossip mill running for someone to finally hit the mark and figure out who our generous benefactor was. And we were all grateful. Especially those of us who stole them. Last Wednesday the lotions began to disappear. By Friday afternoon they were all gone. What a way to have your nice thought repaid, by having everything stolen. If she never does another nice thing for the ungrateful brats who threw her gesture in her face I wouldn’t hold it against her. Would you?

holiday blues

What is it about the holidays that makes people depressed? Is it all the fake cheer and the reminders of happiness that they don’t quite have? Is it the commercial aspect, the money they end up spending on that one single day? Is it the weather, with the warm summer afternoons a dim memory even on the best of winter days? What is it about this time of year that increases suicides, family arguments and personal angst? Whatever it is, I can’t wait until the holidays are over and the world around me returns to normal. Or at least to the version of normal we have in early November.