Monday, September 11, 2017

Due to the stress levels this year my ability to focus has taken a big hit.  I see it in a variety of places and at a variety of times.

I usually sleep well, but when I wake, I wake to a racing mind. It's not racing toward any destination. It's just racing.  Often it's filled with throwaway thoughts. It takes me a while to get it under control. Sometimes it will settle of its own accord. Other times I will have to deliberately pull it in with meditation.

When I start work there are times when just the act of starting work is very difficult.  There are other times when I am able to start okay.  Sometimes I can get fairly deeply into the day before I get derailed.

It doesn't take much to derail me.  Something unexpected.  Something trivial.  Something irritating.  Whatever focus and motivation I had just goes away and I find myself caught in a mind-loop that won't let go.  The monkey has his hand in the jar and is not going to let go, even though he is trapped.

I can see it in the evening, at the end of the day, when I just want to stare blankly at the wall.  Once I stop for the day that is it, I'm done.  Consequently I am losing a good section of time where I am most personally productive - the evenings.

Another place I can see it is writing.  I have been having a hard time writing with any sort of attention to detail. It is far to easy to let myself be distracted and then nothing.

I know that part of it is the mind/body healing from the high levels of stress.  I know that eventually I will make it through and return to a time where focus comes more naturally, more easily.  In the interim though it is irritating me.

So, let me just finish this up and post it.  Then we will see if I can focus back and pull myself out of  my focus-free mind.  Let go monkey! Let go!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Days Have Passed

I just noticed that it has been a while since I have written.  All things considered that is understandable.  The days have passed - they have been busy with the post-death activities and trying to catch up with work activities.

I pretty much spent the last weekend in a semi-coma, catching up on sleep and being generally exhausted.  This week (as far as Tuesday has gotten) has been pretty ordinary and in general things will swing back toward an ordinary rhythm in the coming weeks.  I am scattered and behind at work, so there is a lot of catch-up to do there.  There's also a lot of incidental bureaucratic BS that I have to plow through in the working environment and sometimes I am having trouble staying focused.

I think that I should be in better shape at the end of the week.  I am not sure if I'll get caught up on things at work, but I keep plowing ahead there.  So, this turned into a short entry, but that's okay.

Thursday, June 1, 2017


I'm physically and emotionally exhausted right now.  Fortunately, I've got a three day weekend ahead of me, so I am looking forward to some serious recovery time.  I need to just get off the grid and sleep, eat, stare at the wall, listen to music, and wander in the forest for a while. I need several nights of good sleep and the opportunity to pivot back to my normal sleep schedule, which has been wholly disrupted the last months/weeks as we went through the dying process with my friend.

Anyone who has been through that process knows how exhausting it can be, between the emotional and physical requirements, it is one tough road.  The road is done though. In the aftermath of such events you're glad that your friend is no longer suffering. There is a sense of relief - relief in that their suffering is over and relief that the particular journey, for everyone involved is over.

Mainly, I just need to curl up and sleep, so I am heading off work to do that in exactly eighteen minutes.  (LOL even in a state of exhaustion I am still borderline OCD and need to stop work at the top or bottom of the hour.)

I've been avoiding work meetings today and avoiding commenting when I am in those meetings because I know that the filter between what I am thinking and what I will say is, at this point, badly damaged. I did manage to get some work done, but I have fallen behind on other projects, so there is a lot of stuff that has been simply stacking up. 

I also know, from prior experience, that when I am in this state of exhaustion I am prone to react disproportionately to things.  Things that would normally roll off my back - won't.  Things that would normally not bother me - do. It's kind of a dangerous place to be.

Over the years I have seen the damage that families can do to each other as they go through the dying and grieving process, so I have been sensitive to that.  There is still some damage being done in his family, but that is a burden I can't bear for them.  Once the dust settles I can counsel them toward forgiveness and reconciliation, but that is about all I can do.  I'm sure I will write more about it in the coming days, because wherever you go through this process there are always lessons learned - both general lessons on dying and specific lessons on the things that are done or undone that could have been handled better.

Meanwhile through, the foggy tendrils of exhaustion are firmly rooted in my brain. So, I will get some sleep, and then when I wake up I think I am going to order a pizza.  My end of the work-week ritual is usually pizza and a movie off TV or the DVR, so as part of getting back to normal, that's my plan tonight, after my nap.  That is assuming that my nap doesn't turn into "to heck with it, I'm going to sleep for sixteen hours straight."  There is about a 50/50 shot of that.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

On Life, On Death

On Sunday my friend Bob passed away after a two and a half year battle with cancer.  He died at home, with his daughter, myself and my nephew present.  He passed away quickly and died in his sleep, resting peacefully.  As such, it was a good death.  I am heartbroken and will miss him dearly.  He was among the first of my California friends when I moved here thirty plus years ago and I've known his daughter all her life, from the time she was an infant in arms.  He is survived by his daughter and his grandson.

My mind is a swirl of things, which is normal after someone I love has passed away. I am sure they'll start to sort themselves out.  Since he was released into hospice about ten days ago it has been a flurry of activity as we rotated sitting with him, taking care of him, and just being there for him.  They were long days with little sleep.  Last night was the first truly good night's sleep I've gotten for quite a while and the first day I feel more like myself. 

There are other things going on in life right now, but they are all minor compared to Bob's dying and death.  Soon enough I will settle back into the normal flow of life. Soon enough.  Meanwhile, my dear friend has pierced the veil and now knows the great mystery.  I am sure he is embracing it fully. Here, behind him, life will simply go on.  That is what life does.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Brown Dirt and Tons of Stuff


It has been a busy week.

We've been cleaning over at Bob's house for the last two days.  We have made a lot of headway. I imagine the house hasn't been thoroughly cleaned for several years at least.  At one point I found a box of mail from 2003, so it probably wasn't thoroughly cleaned since then.  We've got enough junk to fill a 20 yard dumpster, which we're going to order today.

In the last two days we've hit the major junk filed areas - the atrium, the kitchen/dining room, and the living room.  Stripped them all the way down, threw out a ton of stuff, mopped some very brown floors, cleaned some furniture.  Today's plan is to finish up the kitchen and start working down the hall toward the bedrooms.

Meanwhile, in the work environment I've got a project that I am going to have to delay again - we just can't get it to work, it's one step forward and one step back.  Every time we get something resolved, we run into another problem, like peeling back the layers of the onion.  So, as I go through the day cleaning at Bob's, I am going to be cutting back and forth to work to see if I can kick this project into higher gear.

One of the frustrating things about the project is, due to the way the bureaucracies of both companies work, it has been virtually impossible to get all the players on the phone at the same time.  Really, I suspect we could resolve it if we could just get everyone to sit together on the phone and go through it step by step in real-time, but everyone is so overwhelmed with other work project we just can't seem to make that happen.

I'm pretty badly frustrated about it and it's causing me a lot of stress, which is layering on top of the other stress, so I am cranked pretty high right now.  But, I know the secret to getting through it is to just keep the head down and work through it, as painful as it is.  One of my frustrations is that some of the resources (people) involved seem to bump into a problem and then just stop and wander off and do something else.  I always hate slamming people at work, but I am reaching for the big hammer.

Meanwhile, I just keep reminding myself to breathe.  Simply breathe.  Head down, keep moving forward.

Outside of that, things really aren't going to bad.  It has been nice doing to physical labor over at Bob's place, so that has been enjoyable, though I swear I've inhaled a ton of dust bunnies and spider-webs.  I've got a quick work related meeting shortly, then I am going to go over and dive back into the work at Bob's.  I'll take my work computer with me so I can see if I can kick the project forward at the same time.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Just Throw It Away. Just Walk Away From It.

It's been a fairly decent Monday here.  It's about the normal level of work chaos for a Monday. There are a lot of meetings stacked up on a single day so it really means that I am lucky if I get an hour or two of clean work.  I already spent one of those hours this morning and I should be able to spend another this afternoon after I wrap up the meeting I am listening to right now.  It is one of those box checking meetings that large corporations have to have.  I'm not a fan of them but I understand their necessity in a complex work environment.  My primary objection is a lot of times they are not functionally necessary.  This one may be marginally necessary, at best.

I've taken three days off this week, Wednesday through Friday, to help Brandy do some cleaning over at Bob's.  As usual, the two of them are out of sync, but not to badly. Brandy wants to get a dumpster and through a lot of stuff away and Bob is balking.  So. we've settled on kind of a hybrid solution - we'll clean, bag and stack in the side yard and then make the decision on whether to rent a dumpster from there.  My only question is around the size of the dumpster - ten yard or twenty yard.  I'm not sure they have that much "stuff" to justify a twenty-yard dumpster.  It might be a ten yard or it might be a couple of pick-up trucks worth.  If it was up to me, I'd be ruthless - but it is really easy to be ruthless with other people's stuff.

I think they'll end up in a better place once the get the full sweep of the cleaning done - just visually and aesthetically they'll notice a big improvement.  I know I have in the times when I've ruthlessly purged my own stuff.  I went through a mini-purge a while ago and ended up keeping some stuff, but, as usual, after a couple of weeks I realized that I didn't need it - that I should have thrown all of it away.  Just close your eyes, throw it away, and realize that most of our junk is pure sunk cost.  Money we spent at one point that we'll never get back.  Just throw it away. Just walk away from it.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Cool Morning and Steady Work

We had a bit of heat yesterday with the temps up in the mid-nineties.  It was the first true sweep of summer heat and I actually enjoyed it after that long wet winter.  This morning is very pleasant and very cool and the day should be ten degrees cooler than yesterday, into the low eighties, with further cooling tomorrow.

Work is fairly quiet this morning so I think I should have a productive day in that environment.  I started the morning with a long presentation of new functionality from one of the vendors (I'm listening to the teleconference as I type - I am familiar with the new functionality, the briefing is more for our customer set and our new management.)

I am looking forward to the weekend.  I've got lunch planned with my friend Ty on Saturday.  We haven't got together in quite a while, so I am looking forward to the conversation.  We're planning to meet at Olive Garden about halfway between our locations.

Other than anticipation of the weekend there really isn't much going on today, just a day of steady work.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Let's Start The Day

I've got about 15 minutes before I'm going to officially start the work day. It's going to be a challenging morning. I've got a pair of meetings that have the potential to turn confrontational, but I suspect they'll go smooth enough, especially since I'm the only one that knows what is going on. In short I should be able to deflect or defer any serious criticism.

I had a sleepless night. I went to bed about 9:30 PM and then tossed and turned for a while before I dropped off. I woke about 3:00 AM, then tossed and turned for a while before I got up. I've deliberately tried to keep the morning low key and simple in anticipation of the stress that's going to unfold over the course of the next couple of hours.

First thing I'm going to do when I start the working day is spend an hour and a half methodically going the the elements of a process I have to brief on at 8:00 AM. The briefing is scheduled for an hour but I'm not sure it's going to take that long.

Immediately on the heels of that meeting I have what we call the "tools" meeting, where I've got to brief on two overdue projects that have been hampered by constant fire fighting. That should go okay because basically we're almost there and I have a small window left to close on the items.

So, that's the day that lies ahead of me. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Tuesday is Quasi-Tranquil

It was a busy weekend, mostly with personal items, but otherwise pretty nice.  I had a bit of epic sleep on Sunday.  I got home from running assorted errands about four PM and laid down to take a nap.  I slept for an hour, woke up on the alarm clock, reset it and slept for another hour, then simply gave up with the whole napping concept and just went to sleep.  I slept until about midnight and then woke for an hour, watched the first episode of "American Gods", and then fell back to sleep for four hours.  Once again, I certainly needed that sleep!

Monday was a bit of blur with the usual work related chaos, but today has been smoother. In the rhythm of work, for whatever reason, I am also light on meetings on a Tuesday, so I actually get a chance to get things done.  The morning has been productive and the afternoon should be as well.

We're heading into the high 80's here in this part of California, so that should be nice, especially after the long wet winter.  We definitely broke out of the drought this year and everything is pretty amazing and pretty green.  Which of course plays heck with the allergies, but that is okay.  I enjoy the green and I enjoy the bird-tribe that congregates on my patio.  They are endlessly entertaining.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Adventures of a Human Being

Quite frankly, today I am exhausted, frustrated and overwhelmed, mainly in the working world.  Back in the late January and early February time frame we had two senior level project managers quit on short notice (both because of the exhausting and frustrating work load).  As a result of that my organization absorbed their work load with the promise of additional resources to replace the lost people.  Well, fast forward to the end of April and there are still no replacement personnel yet.  So, essentially two of us absorbed the work of two other people with no reduction in our already existing workloads.

Then, when you layer into it that, as an overall organization (the project teams, technical teams, and customer teams) we seem to be stuck in permanent fire-fighting mode, it's just exhausting.  You can hear the exhaustion and frustration in people's voices on teleconferences and you can see it in the tone of a variety of communications. 

Now, I've been through times like this before and I know that the trick to getting through them is to just keep your head down and keep swimming.  But, lately it has been difficult swimming. I need to roll over on my back and float for a while. I've got a couple of days of vacation coming up around the 10th, so that should provide some relief. But today, it's exhaustion and frustration.  I'm going to meet with my manager a bit later in the day and vent.  I know she's trying to get those extra resources (she's as exhausted and frustrated as everyone else is) but I guess I just need to vent.

So, let me pivot away from the work environment.  (It's always amusing to me how just writing down your frustrations. Those three paragraphs have helped release some of the stress, just that small period of time floating on my back.)

I've really got nothing to complain about in my personal life.  It has been going well enough. The heavy workload has squeezed some of my personal life out, but I am still getting some good personal enjoyment time - some good reading, some good movies, some good conversations and socialization. I'm even getting ample time to write. So, in that aspect, my personal life as a human being is going pretty good, it's just the work frustration that has a pretty firm grip on me.

Today is Friday however, so I have the weekend ahead of me and I am looking forward to that.  I am going to drive up to Fremont on Saturday and have lunch with my friend Ty, who I haven't seen in a couple of months.  I am looking forward to that.  I also want to spend some time minimizing (i.e. throwing crap away) in my apartment.  Strange, but there always seems to be "more stuff". It's like I have a teleporter in the closet that mysteriously makes stuff appear.