Tuesday, February 7, 2012

And Now For Something... Completely Different

  Because of my extremely heavy and complaint-ridden negative-downer post yesterday, I thought I'd go through a few of the positive things going on to balance things out.
    First of all, I'm on to a new book I'm working on--completely opposite of the last one--about international intrigue and scientific discoveries and maybe a strong female love interest. It's going slow. I haven't written something that required so much research in a while, and I'm a little out of practice. But I think having an outline is going to work to my advantage. I can't be creative when it comes to stuff like because I'll get lost in all the stuff I made up. Having a map ahead of time will help, I hope.
    Second of all, the Giants won the Superbowl. Burn a thousand times, burn, on New England. Cocky bastards. I'm not a big football fan--I actually consider myself a Cardinals fan just because Jerry Maguire is my favorite movie--but I am a fan of New York things in general, so I don't feel like it's a betrayal. And some of the commercials were actually pretty good.
These were some of my favorites:
    We got free lunch, sort of, yesterday at work because apparently it was Jimmy John's Customer Appreciation Day. I got a free small sandwich and we went to Chick-Fil-A to get a couple extra sides (yogurt and granola for me :)
    In addition to my positivity journal, I'm trying to take better care of myself. I'm back on LiveStrong.com this year to try to lose a little weight and eat healthier. I have new exercise DVDs, and I'm trying to cut out some of the eating out. I'm taking vitamins for the first time in YEARS (i.e. they are no longer in gummy or chewable form).
    I am trying to be nicer to myself, which is always hard. I'm setting aside a few bucks out of each paycheck to buy myself something off my Amazon wishlist. Partly because I like getting things in the mail, and partly because at this rate, I'm going to need to have like six birthdays a year to whittle that list down to a reasonable size. 
    I'm trying to commit myself to doing more good, for myself, the people I'm close to, and the world as a whole. It's going to be a long process, but I think it will be worth it.
    I've realized that a lot of my negativity comes from dwelling on stuff. While some it is sort of reasonable to dwell on because it affects me on a day-to-day basis, some of it isn't. I've also realized that I probably wouldn't be so negative if I didn't have that grass-is-always-greener mentality. Things aren't going to magically get better because one thing changes--usually something that is out of your control.
    The Greeks had a word for this: deus ex machina (this is one of my favorite phrases to pull on non-liberal arts people), which means god from the machine". It's usually used in theater, when one of the gods would come down and fix things so that the story, which had gotten far too complex and tangled up for the humans to fix things in three acts, could end. There is no magic wand that's going to give you a better boss or more money or lose weight. You have to effect the changes you want to see in your life, and that's what I'm trying to do now. I suck at it, but I'm hoping I'll get better with time and practice.
Who thought I'd be optimistic in the year the world is supposed to end?

What do you think about optimism? Is it the same as idealism? Is it unrealistic?
Tell me what you think in the comments.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Times They Are A Changin

  Truer words were never spoken. However, despite my desire to blog and share everything that's been going on, I've been a little afraid to do it because of who might be reading... Remember last year when I was like, oh, I think I'll leave grad school to go to work full time because I like my job? Yeah. The tides have turned a bit. I don't regret leaving grad school, and I don't regret starting work full-time, but it is taking a toll.
    My physical health is not terrible, but it's definitely affected by working at a computer all day. Sitting at a desk with a gigantic monitor (that always seems too bright no matter how low I turn the brightness control down--I think it's at 35 right now out of 100) for 8 hours a day is bad for your health. Period. I get up, walk around, grab a snack, chat to my coworkers, but then I have to go back to my desk and work after a few minutes of break time.
    I know I have eyestrain. I know my posture's not great anyway, and looking at a computer all day doesn't help. I have started to get a little twinge in my lower back sometimes from my desk chair, even though it's probably more comfortable than some of the office chairs we have. I get tingles in my hand sometimes from using my mouse if I have to do the exact same task for too long in one day (there's a name for this I read the other day, but I can't remember what it is right now). I even have a trackball mouse, which is supposed to be more ergonomic and easier on your hand and wrist, and most of the time, it is, but you do anything for too long and you're bound to get some carpal tunnel symptoms. Not only are these things I could tell my doctor, but I'm also stressed. Eight hours is just a long day. And I always feel out of the loop or behind on my work which stresses me out.
    We currently have an influx of interns at our office which is causing me more stress. Our new three year plan is to have a company "fueled by interns." Now, they're all nice people and I don't begrudge them coming in to get job experience, and I certainly didn't go to business school to say whether or not this is a sound business plan. But I have to admit, it makes me a little nervous. I'm not afraid that one of them will come in and take my job. I'm more afraid that interns won't be enough to keep up with the workload we have because they aren't trained well enough or aren't there enough hours in the week.
    I was hoping they would arrive to relieve some of my workload so that I didn't have to worry as much as I do about how much stuff needs to get done. I find that lately, I've been a little more forgetful than usual about some things, which makes me think I might spread a little too thin between doing my administrative and assistant work (aka my job title) and my more time-consuming and more job title fitting duties of managing and editing the content for our websites.
    It's really hard to switch back and forth between playing the admin role and the editor role, and I have to do it several times during the day. I have brought it up to the boss about being shifted into a job title that fits my duties more accurately, but that would mean they would need to find another assistant, and with the intern plan they are running on now, they seem reluctant (if not downright adverse) to the idea of actually hiring someone for pay.
    On the one hand, the intern plan makes a little sense to me. They sell it as, we want to make sure the person likes to be here and likes the work here before we hire them, and we want to make sure we like the person and they fit in and do good work before we decide to hire them. But on the other hand, these are all kids. They are college students who don't see our little college town as the end of the road in terms of career options. I don't blame them. So it's hard to find an intern that is not only good at what they do but wants to stay here for longer than their 3 month internship requires. There are plenty of talented, smart, hard-working kids that are coming in, but that also means that they are talented enough to find a job somewhere else where they can make more money and live where they want to live.
    I'm not going to complain too much about the money, because it's not my main complaint to make, but technically, I should be making three times as much as my rent, and right now, I'm only making about two times as much, not including all the damn utilities. And, technically, a competitive wage for the type of job I do is quite a bit higher than what I'm currently making. I currently fit into about 10 different job descriptions--no, I'm not exaggerating--and some of those jobs are supposed to pay three times as much as I do, based on current industry trends. Even though I don't have ten years of experience, I am still doing a job that someone with ten years of experience would be doing, and I think I'm not doing too bad at it either.
    But my main focus, as I said, is this intern thing. What I think is not being said, or unfortunately, perhaps not realized, is that more interns will go than stay. It is not only somewhat inefficient to have to interview so many new people because you're always looking for replacements and people to fill new, previously unfilled positions, but it is also inefficient because a lot of these interns need to be trained and acclimated to how our company works. That takes time that an intern who's there for maybe 8 to 10 hours a week doesn't really have.
    Again, I have liked all the interns we've had so far. They're all nice people and most of them are doing a good job at what they've been assigned. But I know most of them are not going to stay past their internships. They're going to graduate and move somewhere else. The incentive to stay here is just not high enough. While they may enjoy the work, they don't enjoy it enough to stay in town. Or, they may enjoy the work, but they don't enjoy it enough to get paid what we pay.
    I have stayed because it was enough. I like the work. I like living here. But they're raising my rent when my lease ends in April, which is going to spread me even thinner than I already am. I budget like a champ, but this is going to be a little rough without another raise. And with all these changes that are happening, I'm not entirely confident the company will still be here in three years if the intern plan fails.
    Although this new plan is the major cause of my concern for my job security, there is also the fact that they fired one my coworkers a week before Christmas. I haven't quite gotten over that. Not because it was right before Christmas, and not because we were friends. It's the principle of the thing. He worked harder than all of us did, stressed out more than the rest of us did, and was pushed and judged harder than the rest of us are. He didn't deserve it, even though he is probably better off not being here anymore because I know he is way less stressed now than he was.
    What it comes down to is that without him, we are down to two full-time employees, including myself, and with all the new work and new clients and stuff that we are planning on adding, we are extremely, perhaps dangerously, understaffed, no matter how many interns we bring on.
    All in all, I'm worried. I'm stressed out from working forty hours a week, I'm too tired at the end of the day to take care of myself as well as I'd like, I'm worried that I might be on a sinking ship, and I'm worried that I might have to move in with my parents again if things do go south. (Yes, I'm mixing my metaphors. Deal with it.)
    As much as I complain here, I have started a "positivity journal", thanks to a handy-dandy free app that I got for my Kindle (my over-budget Christmas present to myself). I have been told I'm too negative and complain too much, so I started trying to track some of the good things that happen to me during the day so that I have some of the good to balance out the bad. I think it's helping. But it's not going to stop me from sharing my thoughts here because they always come out so much more cohesively when I write them than when I tell them to someone else.
Late night, come home, work sucks. I know. 

What do you think of this 3 year plan? Or my poor health? Or life in general?
Tell me about it in the comments!

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