Monday, October 15, 2018

Fall weather

Weather forecast for the Austin area issued 410 PM CDT Mon Oct 15 2018:

  • Short term (tonight through Tuesday night)...
  • much cooler temperatures along with widespread rain and a few thunderstorms can be found across south central Texas this afternoon. Temperatures are currently in the upper 30s to upper 40s across the region, compared to 24 hours ago when temperatures were mainly in the 80s to lower 90s.
Yep, that's Texas weather for ya - almost a 50 degree drop in 24 hours.  

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Grief and life without a smartphone

It's almost been a month since Rob died and overall I've been doing okay.  I had some rough days where I'd spontaneously burst into tears at the oddest moments, but as far as I know that's pretty normal given the circumstances.  Last week I was at an IT conference and so busy with work that I didn't have time to think about anything except work and the bare minimum daily home requirements (feed the dogs, do laundry, pay bills, etc.) and that pretty much stopped the spontaneous tears, at least for now.  For the most part, I've done a whole lot of "one step in front of the other" which fortunately, is something I'm very experienced at doing although I've got to say, it's a bit harder than usual this time.

In the middle of all of this, my smartphone started acting up and pretty much died on me. I ended up spending almost a week with nothing more than a flip phone on a different phone number that could only make phones calls if the stars were aligned just right.  Well, it could also get texts, but they were pretty hard to read on that little tiny screen and I never did get the hang of successfully replying to them. It did allow me to call a cab to get to and from the IT conference, but that was about it.

Now that's a pretty minor problem, but when you are in the middle of dealing with the death of your spouse... not so minor.  No one had my new flip phone number and all of their phone numbers were all on my old dead phone that I couldn't access anymore.  Since I couldn't access it at all, I also couldn't forward my phone calls.  And all those applications that I need for work?  Nope, not on a flip phone.  All those things that require two factor authentication from my old phone number?  Nope. It was a huge hassle and not something I wanted to deal with on top of everything else. But deal with it I did and I do now finally have a brand new shiny smartphone.  Going forward the only thing I have to deal with is getting everyone my new phone number and tracking down and fixing all the two-factor authentication stuff. And I'll get there. Eventually. Although I haven't quite figured out how I'll notify people whose phone number I no longer have because my old phone is dead, but I guess I'll find someone who knows someone who knows someone.  And that actually worked quite well for notifying people of Rob's demise since he kept everyone's phone number in his head and I didn't have half of them, but I ended up hearing from quite a few because one person told another and they told another and.. well, it worked out for the most part.

Now jumping back to the whole phone number change, you might ask, why didn't I just keep my old phone number and save myself the additional hassle of switching to another number? Well, the carrier I used didn't have the model of smartphone that I wanted and while I could have settled for a less desirable phone, I also had promised myself that when then time came that I needed a new phone, then I would switch to my childhood phone number that I had transferred to that recalcitrant flip phone when my mom died.  I had memorized that phone number back when I was about two years old and as a result, it's unlikely that I will ever forget it.  Unlike my other cell phone number that I could barely remember even though I'd had it for about seven years. So the timing was less than ideal, but I went ahead and followed through with my plan to switch.  So what if there's a little bit more chaos when everything else has been turned upside down? Just a drop in the bucket, eh?

I'd also like to mention that my friends, family and employer have all been incredibly supportive during this time and a huge factor in why I've been able to keep myself together and functional during this last month. It would be easy for me to feel very alone right now given that I've lost both my parents and my spouse in just three years time, but everyone around me has let me know that I'm definitely not alone.  And Tracy, my best friend, who I've known for over 40 years, has helped with me stuff that I couldn't bring myself to ask for help with and just jumped in and did it anyway.  Dude, I so owe you and I hope I can return the favor someday.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

It's the start of a new chapter in my life

So very much has happened over the last five years, that I couldn't begin to discuss it all in one post.  Here's a short version.   Rob had an serious accident on his scooter in October 2013 and almost died from a severe head injury.  His recovery was far beyond what the doctors expected and he was able to come home after a couple of months in the hospital.  He had a slow and steady improvement, however, he never was able to get back to 100% and return to work.  The years of 2014 and part of 2015 were spent helping my mom who had been diagnosed with cancer.  She made it through the difficult treatment and was pronounced cancer free at the end of it.  Towards the end of 2015 my dad's kidney failure became progressively worse.  He managed to pull off one last Christmas with the family, but died in January 2016.  A few months later, my mom's cancer returned and she had major surgery and further chemo.  We made it through all of that, only to have her experience an allergic reaction to medication which resulted in an emergency tracheotomy.  She never really recovered from that and died in July of 2017.  The year of 2018 hasn't fared much better. My brother had a heart attack and almost died.  Fortunately, he had a successful bypass surgery and recovered completely so I had hopes that I was finally done with this sort of thing.  Until Rob started getting sick.  He wouldn't go to the doctor, no matter how much his friends and I pushed him to go.  And to my great sorrow, Rob died on Monday, September 17th. I thought it was difficult losing my parents, but losing my soulmate has been much, much harder.  

Although I am grieving, life does go on and I've decided to pick up this blog again.  Writing has always helped me through the tough times in my life and I'm not sure why I stopped posting here during these last five difficult years.  Maybe it's because I had so little free time or maybe it's because I just didn't want to write about all the turmoil.   Either way, that chapter of my life has closed now so I think I'll give it another go during this next one. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

We celebrate 19 years of marriage today

Rob and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary today.  We didn't go out for dinner, but instead stayed home and cooked a very expensive rib-eye steak on the grill and drank some rather expensive locally brewed beer that I brought home in a growler.  I haven't found a restaurant yet that can grill a steak better than we can and drinking tasty beer at home means we don't have to worry about who is staying sober enough to drive back out to the boonies where we now live. 

There's not any "traditional" gift designation for 19 years, but even if there had been, well, we probably wouldn't have followed that anyway. Rob briefly considered combining the 15 and 20 year gifts by getting me a crystal china-man, but didn't have much luck finding such a thing, at least not in our price range.  $3500 for a lamp?  Not gonna happen.  Instead, he got me a little diorama of a day-of-the-dead skeleton bride and groom.  And we were apparently in tune on the day of the day theme since I bought him a day of the day cookie cutter as well as a skull shot glass and some Lil' Devil Cinnamon Toothpicks.  Not exactly traditional gifts, but very personal and I think that beats the hell out of diamonds and what-not other things that advertising says you ought to buy for your sweetie. 

The anniversary card that Rob gave me pretty much says it all.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

One week is too short, too long and just about right

I was trying to decide if a week of vacation was too short or too long and I've come to the conclusion is that it's both. Today is day four so I'm over the half-way mark. I've managed to get some rest and also get some things done around the house. Although I haven't been at the office, work has never left my mind any more than it ever does. The only difference is that I'm not doing any work-related action. Four days is the same as having a long weekend and that feels about right for a break which makes a week of vacation seem too long.

That said, the fact that I've haven't really stopped "working" nor have I even begun to do any kind of vacation activity, well, that indicates to me that a week is too short. Too short, that is, if I was actually taking time to go off on a vacation. I'm guessing it would take me about a week to unplug from work and then I'd need another week to really have a vacation. 

In this case, where I'm taking time off just to prevent dropping dead from exhaustion, one week seems just about right. It took me four days to get to the point where I didn't wake up still tired in the morning, but I woke up at 5 AM this morning, after 8 hours of sleep (what luxury!) and for the first time in months, I didn't have to force myself to put one foot in front of the other. I got up extra early so I could have time for leisurely breakfast before mowing the front lawn at 8 AM.  That's a god-awful time to mow the lawn, but any later and it's too hot, plus I wanted to do it before the bees were all over the crepe myrtles.  Unfortunately the bees were already out in full force so I'm sure the neighbors were scratching their heads at my mowing technique while I tried to avoid any pissed off bees.

Even at 8 AM, I was hot and sweaty by the time I was done mowing the lawn and I figured I'd just collapse on the couch and be done for the day (other than picking Rob up at the airport tonight.) After all, just a week ago, mowing the lawn would have taken every bit of energy I could have summoned, but today, it was not a big deal and I happily discovered that I wasn't ready to just collapse on the couch.  In fact, I'll probably knock out a few more projects before I go pick up Rob at the airport later tonight.

Now that I've bounced back a bit, the next three days are going to seem like what used to be a normal long weekend, back in the old 8 hour M-F days.  I'm looking forward  to it!

Monday, June 03, 2013

Turns out "a couple of months" was overly optimistic

Things at work did not slow down at the end of March.  I am still working pretty much the same hours and to give you a hint of how crazy it's been, I took Saturday night off to attend a memorial service for a close friend, but still ended up having to take a call from work while I was there (fortunately I did not have to leave and drive to the office!) That said, the end might finally be in sight.  If I don't drop dead myself before then, I'll be taking an entire week off in mid-June, come hell or high water. No big plans.  I'll be hanging out at home and if I can find enough energy, I might get the garage in order.  Or not. The only plan is no plan.  And  no goals, no projects, no deadlines, no waking up to answer work emails or phone calls in the middle of the night, no eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at my computer while still working,  no grabbing only 5 or so hours of sleep each night.  I'm going to turn off the clocks and sleep as long as I want!  Maybe even the entire week.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Avalanche of Work

The first full week of the year kicked off an avalanche of work at my job.  Projects that should have been started in September were finally begun and it's now a mad dash to get everything done before March 1st.  I've been working seven days a week, with many of those days lasting as long as 12 or 15 hours. I'm not being "forced" to work this much, although I would probably find myself out of a job in a hurry if I wasn't stepping up to the plate and taking on extra work.

The truth is that if I had sat around and waited for duties that fit my job description of "Technical Writer" since my transfer out of Customer Service, then I would have been hard pressed to have enough work for even a part-time position.  Mind you, there are plenty of things that need to be "documented", but this would involve other people giving me information and that would take their time away from far more urgent duties.  Documentation can always wait, that is, until the only person that knows how to do something is no longer around.  But as long as that person is still available, there are just too many other competing priorities which leaves me with very little to do in my official capacity.

However, I am not the kind of person who is happy sitting around with nothing to do so I managed to stay busy by scrounging around for projects and tasks.  This was not easily done at a company where projects aren't announced to the company as a whole and I would only hear about them on the grapevine, but I was able to find plenty of work to do thanks to a lot of groundwork on my part.  In fact, I actually invented several of them which meant I had to "sell" it to management.   I was, for all intents and purposes, a freelancer, albeit one with with a boss and a steady salary.

And so there I was towards the end of last year, still scrounging around for work and still waiting for my manager to give me more official duties when all of a sudden things got turned upside down.  I'm not going to go into details, but end result was that my manager resigned and a recently employed consultant ended up in charge of the department.  This consultant had already told me that there was going to be no room for me in the newly restructured Information Technology department so the fact that he was now my manager meant that I was under even more pressure to make a place for myself.  

I suppose that sounds like a somewhat reasonable explanation for the workload I'm currently experiencing, but it's not the whole story.  I could always say no, take a layoff and find another job.  And the company could easily replace me with a fresh-faced college student for much of what I'm currently doing (although they would have to pay them a higher salary and probably take a big hit on work ethics.)  Instead, I'm doing this because I love the challenge and it gives me the opportunity to update my IT skill set in an actual production environment.  And if that means working my ass off for a couple of month, then so be it.

That said, I'm still going to whine on occasion about what I know is ultimately a personal choice because at the end of a 15 hour day, sometimes it just feels damn good to whine and complain.   And if I do, there's no need to tell me that it's all my own fault; I'm already perfectly aware of that.