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Archive for May, 2011

Earlier this week I read a dystopian sci-fi story about a corporate world in which managers are schooled in counseling employees, primarily to more effectively fire them when it’s profitable to do so.

Or no, wait. I read that last week. Sense of all time is all screwy lately.

I found myself thinking of that story bemusedly yesterday and today, because I felt mostly like a therapist: talk to the biologist about a problem he’s having with his pay, talk to the owner about this and then discuss the owner’s feelings about the biologist wanting more pay, talk to the biologist about the owner’s feelings about the biologist wanting more pay and warn him that a discussion is forthcoming. Talk to biologist after the discussion about how he feels about that. Talk to the mapping person about more map revisions and her (our) ongoing frustrations about those revisions. Talk to the co-op student about his girlfriend’s mom’s cancer diagnosis and his need to be not travelling all over the place doing field work for a bit.

It’s like two decades of training as a child abuse survivor came together and I was able to just be an emotional airbag, effortlessly absorbing negative emotions from all over the office in order to mitigate issues that could develop into project delays. It’s not much like the dystopian sci fi story, but really, who knew?

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Do you know what that sound is, Dear Readers? It is the sound of me not rushing around, actually sitting at my desk and having ten minutes in a row to collect my thoughts and plan things more than two hours in advance. It’s a nice sound. I like it. (New PM Is on board and has taken over the projects. I’m still involved but much reduced.)

Aaaaaaah.

So my plan is to take this week, and plan. Also, breathe. I like breathing. I missed it.

Update:

1) PP’s missing a vaccine so I get to leave work early this afternoon to take her to a walk-in clinic to get it, because even though we finally got that pediatrician referral, this pediatrician doesn’t do routine care and won’t give shots. He will however investigate her growth issue a little more, which is fine and overdue, but gah.

(Thursday’s update to Wednesday’s draft update: Called the walk-in clinic to confirm their hours and that they had the vaccine in stock. Took time off work, took PP to the clinic, sat there for an hour and a half, and was told that they had just used the last dose on the patient before us. Told the doctor and the receptionist how unacceptable this was. No apologies or acceptance of any responsibility. No solutions forthcoming. So blisteringly angry I started swearing on my way out the door. Kicked the car and slammed the car door and burst into tears behind the wheel because, seriously, HOW CAN IT BE THIS HARD TO GET A CHILD A NEEDED VACCINE? How is it that so many people have made so many errors and not a single freaking one of them are taking any responsibility or proposing any answers so that my daughter doesn’t get suspended from school? We’ve taken her in for every well-child visit and were always told she had received all the vaccines she needed, so how is it that this one is not recorded anywhere? She’s been registered at this school board for almost a year and we were told all the files were transferred over from the last one, so how is it that her new school board didn’t have her vaccination info? How is it that they took until May to tell us this, and then gave us less than two weeks to fix it? How is it that not one single person I’ve spoken to at the health unit has been able to communicate the complete information I need to me when I call them–how is it that a doctor’s office can so badly screw up a simple referral that they end up sending a child to a pediatrician who doesn’t do routine care–how on earth does a doctor’s visit RUN OUT of one of the most common vaccines, and not be able to run their office well enough to communicate this to people who specifically call for that information? Sometimes it seems like this bucolic little world I’ve found myself in is set up expressly to punish single working parents, because everything is ten times as hard as it needs to be and the attitude of everyone I come across seems to be that this is no big deal because of course there’s another parent and income at home and I can afford to take endless time off to deal with their screw-ups.  I hate them all.)

So PP had a blood test yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon after the appointment and took it like a trooper. It’s not easy getting blood out of those little arms, you know–and all she said was “Ow.” (She is now very stressed out about the vaccination and potentially being suspended from school. Of course.)

2) Spring is finally here and it is gorgeous. There is a yard with trilliums growing in it that I pass every morning on my way to work, and I stop, and smile. The park and yards are full of flowering trees. I got out a bunch last weekend, squeezing every last bit of sunlight from the days, on a couple of hikes with Hike; did a bunch of reading and sewing, and in general making myself feel relaxed (lots I need to do, but none of it can be done on a weekend anyway. I still need that weekday off; maybe this Friday or next). (Like: trying to transfer my old retirement savings account to a new institution after the move. I can’t believe it’s taken a year already and there’s still missing information. Of course, this is all because I am stubborn and insist on ethical funds so I can’t go through a regular bank, which means an extra hassle every time I move or change anything. Hopefully once I get it all set up this time I’ll be with an institution that has a bit more scope and moving won’t be such a hassle.)

3) Hike. Seriously nice guy. From a recent email, a rodent rescue gadget he put together to fish chipmunks out of his mom’s swimming pool:

“You are correct.  The chipmunks don’t really swim around splashing, squealing and smiling like in the cartoons.  In fact, I am not sure if a chipmunk can actually smile.  I have rescued several that were near death.  So I got out the hot water bottle and wrapped them in a towel and then wrapped another towel around the chipmunk and the water bottle.  It seemed to work well enough that the one did not really want to leave.  Can you blame him or her?  How often does a chipmunk get a spa treatment.  I thought it was going to ask for a facial!”

Tell me that’s not cute.

We haven’t had the Relationship Talk yet but he’s making noises about inviting me to a family birthday shindig in a few weeks. I’ll see him tonight after my haircut.

~~~~~

I keep telling myself that sometime in the next week or two, things will calm down, I’ll be able to collect my breathe and catch up on my personal life and make some plans and it just never seems to get here. This has been one of those weeks where I am so sick of being a single mom–and one without any kind of family help or local support network–I just want to throw in the towel, admit defeat and give up. My car is two months overdue for an oil change. I’ve needed a haircut for three and a half weeks. There’s the whole vaccine debacle with PP. I haven’t had spare time to deal with the retirement savings thing or the mortgage and I have a new insulin pump that I haven’t had any time to learn how to use properly. I get these little tiny windows of two minutes here and there that aren’t enough to do anything but dash off a line, here or elsewhere–this has taken the whole week to write.

I seriously want to just lie down and give up. But I know if I do that more stuff will pile up and I’ll just end up with a bigger hole to climb out of; if I don’t just keep going it’ll get worse, not better, because there is no help coming. It’s a really shitty motivator but it’s going to have to do.

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and another thing…

You know, today was the first day I noticed that some of you actually subscribe to the blog comment feeds! I don’t know why I’m so surprised, but I am.

Anyway.

That’s not the subject of my post. The subject of my post is (cue creepy music and picture wavy, glowing green font here) … my mother.

My mother, who has now tanked her third business since her retirement a couple of years ago. I’ll take a landscaping course and do a landscaping business! She got the certificate, and did nothing with it, because it was hard to find clients. I’ll become a personal trainer! She bought all the equipment and distributred a few flyers and never got a client, because finding clients is hard. I’ll buy a franchise for providing home care services to elderly and disabled people! She and my Dad spent about $50k on it and setting up the business and that was like three months ago and now she wants to quit because finding clients is hard.

My Dad was over this weekend with my brother and nephew (so include my father in this rant). Gosh, he said. I knew it would be tough but I didn’t think it would be this tough, and I didn’t think your mother would react this way. (She is, apparently, depressed and refusing to answer the phone, thus jeapordizing their contract and possibly putting them in legal trouble.)

REALLY? I wanted to shout. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN FOR THE PAST THREE YEARS AND THE OTHER THREE TIMES SHE’S DONE THIS? HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY BE SURPRISED?

This, of course, is what denial looks like.

Because this is the way she’s always been. Something gets hard, she wants to quit, gets depressed when she can’t back out easily, and it’s always everyone’s fault but hers. Argh.

It’s not my money, it’s not my business, and it has no impact on my life, but I get so frustrated when I see them doing such blindingly stupid batshit crazy things and having no self-perception to learn from their mistakes or even see each other clearly enough to know that this is ALWAYS how my mother has been and how she ALWAYS will be.

But this is the same man who knows his mother was abusive and still believes that she was, deep down, a good person who loved them (his sisters are the same way). That his father was a saint for sticking with her instead of an enabler who didn’t protect his kids from a crazy woman with a knife. And this is the same woman who can calmly blame an infant and a child for her own abusive behaviour, because she can’t accept responsibility for anything ever. So I’m not surprised. I’m frustrated, but not surprised. They’re 60, they’ve had a lifetime of practice at seeing lime-green as fuschia and stripes as plaid, they’re not changing.

And because they’re not changing and I can’t change them and it’s a situation I have no control over that doesn’t affect me, except for likely hearing my Dad complain over the next several months about how my mother is depressed and won’t talk to him …. I will let it go.

But not just yet. First I am going to wave my fists a little and yell OHMYGODTHESEPEOPLEAREFUCKINGCRAZYIWANTTHEMALLCOMMITTED!

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bitching

Get referral for pediatrician for PP Feb 18. No callback from doctor within 2 weeks. Call back. They need her health insurance info. Provide it. No callback from doctor within 2 weeks. Call back. They need her health insurance info. I say I provided it two weeks ago. They say they lost it. I provide it again. Two days later they call back–needing her birth date. I provide it. Next day they call me with a referral–to an opthalmologist, who I told them I no longer needed them to provide as I’d given up on this referral and gotten myself an optometrist. Oh! they say. Wait two weeks. No callback from doctor on ped referral. Call office. Huh, they say. No idea what happened. Will send the referral now. Wait two weeks. No callback from doctor’s office. Get form from health unit saying that PP’s immunization info needs to be updated or they will consider suspending her from school. Call doctor’s office, leave message. No reply. Two weeks pass. Send in what info I have for immunization stuff. Get letter from health unit saying PP will be suspended on May 27. Freak out. Call doctor’s office; it has by this point been three months since I went in for the referral. Tell them I am disgusted by their performance, that PP is going to be suspended because she doesn’t have a doctor, that if I have to miss work time because of that I will consider my legal options, all on voicemail.

Next morning they call with an appointment for next week. We didn’t like your nasty message, they say. You could have just called us to ask.

Realize that since I now have the appointment, I no longer need to care or ever speak to them again. I write down the info, say goodbye and hang up. I will soon know if I can keep PP in school.

***

Work: several projects sold to new client. New client changes project definition and specs. We proceed with new specs. New client defaults on payments to old client at deadline, several months later. Projects revert to old client with old definition and specs, requiring us to re-do substantial amounts of work in an impossibly short turn-around time in order not to miss critical timelines. Then subconsultant completely fucks up their part of the process for every single project, also requiring much scrambling to patch holes and stop ships from sinking on impossibly short timelines, which will probably mean replacing the sub with someone new and getting all the new work done in oh, about ten days, for ten projects. Picture Maeve whimpering at her desk, and colleagues stopping by sympathetically with sad faces and chocolate bars.

Can’t go into too much detail, but honestly, WHO GOES OUT TO A WORKING FARM AND STANDS ON A LANEWAY AND DECIDES THAT THE FARMER SHOULD PLOUGH IT SO THEY CAN SEE THE DIRT PROPERLY? Would you? I mean, I don’t know for sure, but I’m willing to bet you have no expertise in this particular field–I know I don’t–and I’ll bet you wouldn’t go out and stand on a dirt laneway on a farm and say, gee, I just can’t see the dirt here until they plough up this road!

Morons.

***

So between the two I’ve been doing a lot of hyperventilating. What I really need is a day off sometime very soon because there are personal life things I’m not dealing with–like getting a mortgage pre-approved–because I haven’t got a spare minute. But there’s no point because whatever I don’t do today will only have to be done by me tomorrow, which means I’ll only fall farther behind and end up more stressed out.

This is the downside of having a job I care about. I can’t just say “screw it” and leave and go home and not think about it, because I WANT these projects to go up for so many reasons.
The new PM is on staff now and I am slowly training her up, but it’ll take a few weeks before it amounts to a day off for me. Maybe next week.

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I drafted this the Friday before last, tried to revise and post it Monday, and am giving up. Next week is going to be just like this last one at work only moreso, so enjoy a post that’s from the archives before it ever went public:

~~~~~

Let’s try:

1. New PM starting next week. In six days my workload will slowly reduce by half. Or at least, this is the theory. Even if it reduces by 30% though this will put me in a better spot. Also had my annual review, which went well, and got a raise.

2. Hike. Our chat about the drop-ins was casual, and his follow-through is decent but not perfect. It’s good so far on the unscheduled pick-ups-from-work, but he still came the house by twice this weekend without calling first. (sigh) Now–to be fair–one of those was to deliver flowers for Mother’s Day. (Three flowers visits so far for those who are counting, Dear Readers.) You know how I hate to put my foot down, but I think I’m going to have to.

3. Sleep Conspiracy: Two months of single-mothering with precious few breaks. I love the extra time with PP, but it leaves me tired, drained and cranky, for sure. We should be back to our regular schedule, which means I should be able to catch up on my sleep, but last Thursday the idiots in the house behind mine had an outdoor party until 2 am (I called the cops), and then Friday Hike came over, Saturday it’s back to the regular lack-of-sleep schedule. Next weekend looks similar as PP will be returning home early for the work-related events, which take up Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. Even with two naps this weekend (I couldn’t have stayed awake if I’d tried), I am so beyond tired it’s not funny. I should be able to catch up somewhat the weekend of May 21.

4. Other Boys.

Marvin decided to get all pissy and passive-aggressive with me when I wasn’t returning messages fast enough. I don’t have time to SLEEP and he’s bugging me about emails, not to mention the tone with which he chose to say so.

I have one email from someone else sitting in my inbox that’s been there for three weeks that I just haven’t had a moment to properly respond to. (Mind you, I have been replying more promptly to Hike, but that’s because a) I’ve actually met him and b) I squeeze in one or two over the work day.) (Still, I feel guilty about it.) The guy in the City who’s 53 but seemed decent? Is unemployed and planning to remain so until he has a good relationship so he is free to relocate, and more power to him, but that’s not a situation I feel comfortable taking on. I should say so to him, though. SlowPoke keeps sending messages. He’s not asking why I haven’t written, and he’s still not suggesting communicating outside of eH, but on the other hand he KEEPS WRITING. Odd.

But I have two guys on eH that I haven’t responded to in a week and a half either. I feel like I should tell them something, but Hike and I are in that weird transition zone where we’re not yet in a relationship, but we’re spending enough time together that I really don’t have anything available to even respond to emails, let alone go on a date. Responding as if I’m free feels dishonest; responding as if I’m not free feels premature; not responding feels insensitive.

Don’t you miss the fun of dating, Dear Readers? Aren’t you envious?

5. PP: Is great. She keeps scaring her own pants off with these highly imaginative games she invents and then half-convinces herself are real. Now it’s the Fake World, a la Coraline, which she is afraid will invade the Real World with only herself and her friend M to defend it.

6. I had a follow-up appointment for the new pump last Thursday that I completely forgot about. First time in my life that’s happened–and I feel like a heel about it, though I would have had to cancel anyway. Otherwise new pump is working out fabulously and I am taking full advantage of no longer having a need for pockets.

7. There was a 7. What was the 7?

~~~~~

I never figured out what the 7 was. We’ll leave it blank as a sign of respect for the Update that Ceased to Be.

8. Hike has taken it upon himself to visit when I’m not here and do my yard work. Is it wrong of me to be pleased about this? My lawn is happy, I think. He even edged my garden. I’ve never had an edged garden.

9. Today is the work thing with  PP. In just a little while she will be home, and we will go bowling, and then over to a colleague’s for supper. Last night on the phone she did not want to hang up with me: “I will not hang up this phone!” she said tearfully. “Wouldn’t it be great if it was a waterproof phone you could take into the shower?” I said. “I would love to talk to you all night. How about if you write me an email when you’re done and I will write back and you can read it tomorrow morning? Would that help?”

PP: No! You must write back right away!

Maeve: Oh! Well then, how about I write you an email when you are in the shower, and you can read and write back when you’re done?

PP: OK.

Contrast this to a few days ago when PP was pulling the same thing when talking to the Ex–I will not hang up this phone! I will not move until you come and pick me up!–and all he could say was, well you have to, it’s bedtime and there are things I have to do.

PP: I miss you more than you miss me!

Ex: Oh, I doubt that. I think we both miss each other about the same.

So I’m feeling a bit smug but also frustrated on PP’s behalf, because really, it does not take much–just reassurance and love so that she knows she remains important to her parents when she’s not there. But he can’t empathize enough with her to do more than offer half-hearted pats-on-the-head and tell her what HE needs. Dink.

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I was raised to be a Jedi Master. If you listen to my parents, I mastered it. I am Darth Vader, baby, able to make anyone, anywhere in any situation treat me like shit, just by sitting there minding my own business. Beat that!

My Ex continued the training, telling me for years that if he cheated on me with anyone who walked by in a skirt and sexually harassed my married friends, it was all my fault. I forced him into it by not being as sexually available and open as online porn. Ask yourself: what kind of pathetic excuse is it to say no to your husband when he approaches you after you’re asleep, near midnight, when for him to make time for this so-crucial-to-him activity any earlier would have meant interrupting his daily five hours of MASH re-runs? I was asking for it.

He is still the same person, behaving the same way, but thank the gods it’s (mostly) not my problem anymore; and so are my parents, hence all of the delicate barriers I’ve erected around my life to minimize my contact with them and their rationalizations and justifications.

But you know, in a way I wasn’t able to articulate well at the time, the Trader did it too. Oh, he did. He denied it (of course!) because he said they were compliments.

Like this:

“It’s so peaceful being around you. I feel so relaxed. Thanks to you, I can actually read again!”

(repeat many times until I become uncomfortable.)

Maeve: That’s sweet, hon, but I don’t want the responsibility for this. Your stress levels should be your job, not mine. What happens in a few years when all this wears off and I don’t relax you anymore? Is it my fault then if you can’t read again?

Trader: I’m not giving you the responsibility, I’m giving you the credit! Take a compliment!

He meant it too, and no matter how many times I tried to explain it to him, he insisted that this was a compliment and I should be happy with it. It’s hard to complain when someone tries to compliment you but it never sat well with me. I felt, much of the time, as if I were one of the many pharmaceuticals he used to manage his mood: uppers included tobacco and caffeine and downers included a whole slew of over-the-counter medications he’d take to fall asleep at night. It wasn’t unusual for him to take his nightly doses, decide he was too sleepy too fast, then take a piece of tobacco to perk up before bed.

I did point out how mindbogglingly insane all this was, only to hear that his sleep doctor thought his nightly medications were just fine, which didn’t answer the point at all but he (surprise!) couldn’t be made to hear it. But as occasionally irritating as the “compliments” could be, much worse was the pretense at flexibility.

He wanted me to tell him when things were bothering me so he could fix them. Or so he said. But then I’d try, and he would change the subject. If I was really upset, he’d deflect me and ask for reassurance. He’d claim to have heard and understood me, and then say he couldn’t change. He’d tell me he could change, and then not do it. And when later on the issue reared its head again, he’d say I should have said more, or more clearly, or earlier, or louder, forgetting all the times I’d brought it up. The only way to get his attention was to give him an ultimatum. And I’d picture myself, a decade on, saying, “If you don’t take the garbage out this week, that’s it, we’re through!” as the only way of getting heard by him on even the littlest things and how exhausting that would be.

But again, his behaviour wasn’t his fault. Oh no.

It was all due to how well I’d told him about what was bothering me.

Not that he ever seemed to put even five seconds thought into not doing things that would bother me to begin with.

Like making fun of me in public, or making declarative statements when he claimed he meant to ask me a question, or showing up really late without letting me know, or promising to tell his ex about me so I could meet Trader-Tot then chickening out three times, or not changing his relationship status on FB after breaking up with his last girlfriend until he and I had been going out for a couple of months, or starting endless email fights by making deliberately provocative statements to get a rise out of me.

If you can believe it, this is the man who would claim to want a boring, drama-free relationship, and who had no clue about why his ex-girlfriends & ex-wife used to get so angry at him and yell at him so much. Sadly I think his desire for a drama-free relationship is genuine but until he realizes that his behaviour is the exact opposite, he’s not going to get one. If you don’t get drama-free with the Queen of Conflict Avoidance (that would be me) … it’s not happening.

I got sucked in because he kept telling me that he wanted boring, drama-free, and was flexible, and all the rest of it, and I was distracted by and believed what he said over what his actions showed. But only for a little while.

Hopefully I’ll manage not to find myself there again.

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1. Agreeableness: A (based on self-reports). Displays a history of being very generous in his relationships with romantic partners and others. Eg.: helped put an ex-girlfriend through school (who then cheated on him); moved home to help care for his father when he was dying.

2. Conscientiousness: A. Said he would call at 7; called at 7:05. Car is neat. Clothes are neat. Haven’t seen his house (he’s renovating).

3. Neuroticism: TBD. Dresses in a lot of dark colours, so likely to be high.

4. Materialism: TBD. Haven’t heard a lot of talking about Brand X or the price of this and price of that yet, so good sign.

5. Shopping: A. Not a shopper.

6. Environmental values: TBD. He talks the talk but I don’t yet know if he walks the walk.

7. Job: B. He has a job, it’s a good job, it’s a stable job. There are some explainable gaps in job history. No idea of finances or debt yet.

8. Communication skills: TBD. So far communicating is very easy but there just hasn’t been enough of it for me to say.

9. Generous: TBD. See above.

10. Pro-feminism: TBD.

11. Writing: TBD. Haven’t really talked about myself much in that area yet.

12. Outdoorsy: A. The man lives for fishing and hiking.

13. Height: A.

14. Fitness level: C. He’s pretty sedentary from what I can tell.

15. Relationship history: B. Some long-term committed relationships, that did not end because he was an asshole. No idea whether he’s ever lived in sin or not. Pretty sure he’s never been married. No kids. Haven’t talked about it much yet so the ‘insight’ question has yet to be settled.

16. Intelligent: B. Not brilliant but so far don’t feel as if I’m trying to teach calculus to a kindergartener.

17. Chemistry: Ugh. Don’t know. Usually takes me a few months and depends on a  lot of other things. C? But it was a C with the Trader at the beginning too, and a D with the Starving Artist.

So far no red flags. Possible yellow flag with #21. Hike calls multiple times per day and has developed a habit of “dropping in” without invitation which must be nipped in the bud. Three times this weekend, Dear Readers. THREE TIMES IN THREE DAYS. It’s at the point where I check outside my window to see if his car is coming down the street.

I have never dated someone who lived so close, geographically, and in a small community, so we run into each other downtown a fair bit. He also drops in when my workday is over to give me a ride home sometimes. It’s sweet, especially when it’s raining, but it also feels presumptuous somehow.  He’s already called me at work this morning (on my cell). It’s a bit much, considering we’re not yet in a relationship.

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