I’m open, but I’m not THAT open…

Thrice this past week, I’ve been asked how soon I plan to get pregnant after I get married. (Yup, how soon plan. Me. The fiancé gets no say, apparently.)

One, I’ll admit I kinda walked into. Cooing over photos of my cousin’s children and then admitting a craving for tuna (which I haven’t had in forever) does kind of create a natural segue. It really was a “Wow, you really like kids! Are you planning on being a mom soon?” sort of thing. Okay. I can handle that. (My no was followed by the second question of if I already was pregnant. Pro-tip: DON’T FREAKING DO THIS. Not okay.)

The other happened as I was cooing over other photos. I quote, “Oh, I see where this is going: that’s why you’re getting married!”

Look, I get that it’s teasing. I’m not looking to play the victim or cry injustice here. But the implication that kids will take (or worse, already have taken) precedence over other qualities in a spouse really rankles.

Yes, I unapologetically go to mush over babies, and I like working with kids. I’ve always known that I want to be a mom someday. Honestly, I think the fiancé will make a great dad when we’re (yes, “we”! The fiancé gets a say!) good and ready. But I’m not just biding my time by programming–it’s a passion and I want to keep doing it, even after kids, and I don’t love the fiancé just because he could be (as a friend rather aptly put it) a “baby-enabler”. He is so much more than that. He is my partner in crime, my sounding board; he understands and accepts me. He’s a good cook, has an infectious smile and laugh, and plays a mean game of Scrabble. He gives the best hugs and, being far more aesthetically inclined than I, occasionally helps me pick out what to wear. We first bonded over composting and origami, and only later found out that we were compatible in terms of life and family goals, and while kids are a pretty important part of compatibility (you can’t really have half a kid, or only the good parts of a kid), again, I’m marrying him for everything else, too, and quite possibly everything else, first.

Also again, I get that it’s good-natured teasing. I really do. I’m not about to report either coworker for harassment or anything–in this case, it would be counter-productive. However, I have resolved to speak up next time. Not harshly or anything; just “Hey, I don’t appreciate the implication/you asking me about something this personal”. I know they’re good guys and will take it just fine. We all make mistakes. This is just a reminder to me that some have a deeper effect than they seem.

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It’s Been a While…

Perfectionism… not a good state to be in.

This goes double when you’re in your first six months of your first job out of college as a software developer.

My first few projects were good. I mean, I messed up a few times, but when you’ve only been at work a month and don’t really know your team’s system, it’s more or less to be expected.

I think I got a little complacent.

My latest project, which I’ve been working on for… about 2 months now, is admittedly rather bigger than what I’d worked on before. I’m being handed more responsibility, as you are when you’ve been at it a little while.

Lately, not a day goes by when I’m not sitting on the bus thinking about what I screwed up today, or lying in bed having weird-ass dreams about what I’m working on (and subsequently waking up feeling really confused), or just being generally anxious. (That started manifesting physically at one point. Boy, was that fun…) It’s not a good thing, and it hit a peak about two weeks ago. Not coincidentally, I was working between 50 and 60 hours a week, checking my email at home, and generally feeling that any waking moment I wasn’t working was being ill-spent. Since then, I’ve tried to cut it down to 50 hours a week at the absolute maximum and generally hitting roughly the 45-hour mark, and it’s done me a world of good.

I’m much less stressed and anxious than I was. I’m not checking my work email from my phone so much. (I do check if the message count hits 40 or so in 12 hours because that generally means that something’s going down.) Just taking the time to be able to breathe helps.

But things haven’t gone so well this week. They were going okay for a while… until I found out this morning that I didn’t have a complete picture of what I needed to do to make something work. As a result, I caused more delays in what seems like an endless series of them. Thankfully, this part of the project has more or less come to an end, but there’s still a lot of work to go on the second part of it.

I had my weekly meeting with my manager (not on probation or anything—it’s something we just do as a matter of course) today, and received some good news: someone apparently went out of their way to let her know that I’ve been very helpful and just good to work with. Honestly, I’ve worked to deserve that praise. I know it’s true. And yet, because this project I’m on is going to hell mostly—but not entirely—on my account (or at least that’s how it feels), I feel like I don’t deserve praise. And it’s kind of tearing me up.

Again, I know it’s not untrue praise—it’s definitely true. But I’m exceedingly good at doing the whole “pity, party of one!” thing. Thankfully, I have a good manager who is coaching me out of my mentality of my only options being perfection or failure. I mean, yes, it’s good to get things right, and to get them right the first time. But there’s more than one way to do it right, and I actually have more freedom than I did in college to determine my deadlines. It’s something I’m still getting used to, and I’m still getting used to estimate how long a project will take. But beating myself up mentally for every little thing that goes wrong isn’t going to help. I learn from it, but not as quickly as I could if I could detach some emotional (dis-)satisfaction from my performance.

It’s a challenge I know I can rise to, but the climb is going to be more difficult for the tumble my self-esteem has taken.

I don’t really want to hear that I’m good enough. I really don’t want to hear that I’m perfect already. (I’m human and, ergo, imperfect. I’m okay with this.) What I want to hear is myself saying “I did this, and I did it right.” I want encouragement (and I’m getting it, which is nice). Above all, I want to make myself feel better.

I know I’ll get there. I’ll be fine. And I’m trying not to be impatient with myself while I get there, but I just need to vent sometimes.

It’s not the greatest “back from the void” post, I know, but it’s been therapeutic. It’s something I needed.

And anyway, with Christmas around the corner (eeeeeeeeek!), I’m sure I’ll have wonderful, exciting things (like baking ALL the cookies!) to blog about then.

Until then you’ll hear about more mundane things, like how I’m going to the grocery store to get more bread. Wheeee…

The Social Bus

The half-hour or so on the 70 from work to the apartment after work is my time to decompress; to think about my day, or forget about it, if I have the need.

The bus is usually packed, since I hold roughly normal-people hours. (I prefer getting in and out a little earlier, but there are plenty of people going home at 4:30, believe you me.) A lot of the time, though, I usually wind up heading out around 4:45, just in time for the social 70.

The driver is young—he looks 17, and is 27 (I was audacious enough to ask), and always tells you when the bus is going to start moving, what’s near the stop the bus is approaching, and when he’s going to close the back doors. He’s a chatty young fellow, and very bright, both in terms of disposition and intelligence. Apparently, it’s always been a dream of his to be a bus driver, though he says that’s not all he wants to do with his life; he simply enjoys the interaction that being a bus driver allows.

Almost every time I’m on the bus, without fail, someone (usually middle-aged) will tell him sincerely, “When I grow up, I want to be like you.”

He recognizes a lot of the passengers, especially if they hold conversation with him. He remembered me the second time I hopped on his bus—a week after I’d last been on!

This driver loves his social bus. He says that, for most of his shifts, people just don’t talk. They’re all too busy or tired or engaged with their electronic devices. Granted, there’s only so much talking one can do with people at the back of the bus, but I’ve been drawn in as far back as the middle of the bus. It’s like chatting with old friends, but we hardly know each other. I guess there are some people who just inspire that in others, and I think it’s wonderful.

In other news, I got a corset! Yup, a bona-fide (it’s funny ‘cause it’s steel-boned) corset! It can reduce the waist by up to 5 inches, but I wear it laced very loosely, so it doesn’t take off much at all, especially because I ordered a size up from the recommended sizing. It’s more of a fancy back-brace than anything. (Try bending over in a steel-boned corset. Does. Not. Happen. I can slouch a little, but it’s not comfortable to do.)

It’s fashionable—meant to be worn over clothes rather than under them. I certainly wouldn’t wear it to work or to anything semi-formal or better, but I think it looks nice enough. Judge for yourself: http://www.corset-story.com/cd-746-coffee-and-black-brocade-steampunk-style-overbust-made-to-order.html

Chickadoodle’s Life is Average

The boyfriend recently went in for a patch test. The whys and wherefores are a long story, and not a particularly pleasant one at that, so I’ll skip that bit.

If you’ve never had one, patch tests aren’t pleasant things in and of themselves. You get large strips with various patches of common allergens (not food allergens, by and large, because this is more of a contact-allergy thing) stuck on your back. For two days, you can’t shower—sponge bathing is allowed, though—twist your torso, or even really bend over or backward all that much. It’s a good way to practice your posture. And end up with sore shoulders. All of this and more, the boyfriend bore with much fortitude. He’s cool like that.

But the fun doesn’t stop there; no sir! For another 5 days after the patches are removed, you need to make sure the outlines of the patches stay well-drawn, and you need to monitor your back for any changes. As we kinda only live together, the task fell to me. I accepted it with much dignity, probably rather more than it was due, but it was kind of fun to have something to take so seriously.

Now, something else one is not supposed to do is get very sweaty, especially while the patches are applied, but this holds true somewhat even after the patches are removed. Sweat has a funny way of eating through permanent marker and ruining adhesive and carrying allergens around on skin. Being that it’s been rather warmer than we’re used to lately, and our apartment very much lacks for air conditioning, this one’s been a little tricky.

The first night, after a day when it hit roughly 10 degrees above the norm (I admit it, I’m a wimp. Temperature hits about 80, and I just want to shut down.), it was the first time to see what sort of damage had been done. The boyfriend readied himself, and a lesser girlfriend might have been overcome with passion by the loveliness that is the boyfriend’s torso, but I would not be so easily swayed. (Okay, I may have looked longer than strictly necessary. But are you really going to tell me I’m not allowed?) First things first: make back less sweaty. Thankfully, I do have a fan.

After cooling him down for a few minutes, I re-drew the markings to indicate where the tests had been, careful to stay as on the lines as possible. The fact that he (unfortunately) seems to be reacting to a few things was helpful. He asked me to take pictures (my pleasure, really!), and to diagram the spots so that we both knew where things might be reacting. While there is really only one orientation to the diagram that makes sense, I am known for a bit of a wicked sense of humor, and labeled down with “your arse” juuuuust to be sure.

It’s a few days in, and so far, things look okay. No nasty, oozing, itching, burning reactions yet, which is a pretty good sign, I’d say. Though it does leave me to wonder what caused this in the first place…

Well, we shall see in another few days. If nothing else, this is one of those moments in a relationship—whether it’s a romantic one or not—that you realize just how accustomed you are to having that person around and how relaxed you are around them.

In other news, I’m finally not breaking stuff at work! Well, at least, it’s not totally my fault… It took my mentor and 2 other SDEs (and a lot of laughing) to figure out where I was going wrong. At one point, my mentor saw the issue and said, “Why did you put that? It’s supposed to be this!”

I came back with a “That’s what you told me to use!”

He actually had to go check his computer to see the ping he’d sent me. I was right. The other two SDEs couldn’t hold back their laughter, and neither could we for that matter.

Now that work’s going much better, I’m almost excited at the beginning of the day. Almost.

What can I say? My life is average.

I think that’s why I love it.

How I spent my summer “vacation”

a.k.a. Moving really sucks. So does starting a job just after said moving.

So, I’ve been more or less radio silent for the better part of… a week now, I think? Then again, most of the people who read this have seen me in that time, so they know I’m alive and that I love them. Which is, y’know, cool.

Long story short, a lot (we are talking imperial shit tonnes—yes, “tonnes”) has changed in that time.

Like, I have a car. A lovely car. It’s less than 10 years old, runs like it’s new, and needs only a 90k mile tuneup, which is so much better than the first two cars I looked at.

Let me start from the beginning on this one, actually.

My mom wanted me to have a car. Paying for one builds character (and a credit score). I wanted to have a car. Life is just much easier with one. So, we went to [REDACTED], about 10 minutes south of my parents’, because I’d seen cars that might be a good deal.

I knew I’d made a mistake when I could smell the cologne before I hit the lot. My mistake was confirmed when the first salesguy to greet us had on a somewhat silky looking purple shirt, buttoned down to show more of his “manly” chest than I was comfortable with. The first car we looked at… No way. Not in a million years. You tap the gas pedal and go flying forward, and the back hatch needed greasing in order to close. In other words, no bueno.

The second car we looked at, I liked a lot better. It handled fairly well, and looked safe enough, but when we took it to our mechanic for a second opinion, though it passed their inspection (barely, but many cars from that lot didn’t because they are mostly trade-ins and auction cars), it needed about $1000 worth of work. Not bad on the whole, but not great. Still, we Kelley Blue Book’d it, only to find that their asking price was less than half of the dealer’s asking price, even before you take out all the work that would have to be done. Negotiation was worth a try, but when the dealer tries to tell you that they’re never more than $2000 under KBB value when you have direct proof to the contrary, and that they’re *ahem* only making less than $4000 off of it, you kind of want to laugh hysterically. We settled for walking away.

The next business day after that, we went to the way less shady dealership where my mom got her most recent car. I tried out the one that I got, and it was love. It totally checked out mechanically, and, like I said, looks and feels quite like new, and we thought, all told, that we were getting an excellent deal, so we went for it.

The day after that, we moved, the boyfriend and I. Packing and unpacking hell was basically that entire day. I got almost all of my unpacking done, and a lot of the kitchen (my parents had more or less set up the basics of my room, though, so I had more than a fair head start). The boyfriend got the smaller room, and it’s too tiny to hold his desk and bed, sadly, so we’re still working on setting him up however works for him.

The next day, we went to IKEA with the boyfriend’s mom. It’s only the second time I’ve been, and I’ve gotta say, it’s a pretty cool place. They even sell elk-shaped pasta! Show me a person who doesn’t want elk-shaped pasta, and I’ll show you a liar. Or someone who’s gluten or wheat intolerant.

Anyway, we got lots of useful things. Like kitchen chairs. And a 5-quart pot. And kitchen trash and recycling bins. Useful things. After that, there was a late lunch at Wendy’s. (First time ever going there. I gotta say, it’s pretty good!) We also went to the grocery store for, well, groceries, and the office supply store for a router.

After a bit of a tumultuous start, we got the router working for wireless, though it doesn’t seem to like wired connections so much. We’ll see where that goes. (I wrote this before last night, when we actually seem to have gotten it working. Fingers crossed!)

Now, the other fun thing is this: the company that I’m working for doesn’t acknowledge my existence. Or rather, some parts of it do, but other parts don’t.

Let me start at the beginning of this one.

Last year, in going through security checks to get an internship (at the same company I now ostensibly work for), I mis-keyed my social security number. I was off by 1 digit, but, as you can imagine, when they tried to run background checks, this caused a minor catastrophe. The HR department called me and got it fixed (or so I thought), and we all went on our merry way.

About a month ago, in trying to make sure I was good to go, I was contacted a few more times by phone and email, because apparently, my SSN hadn’t made its way through the system. I corrected it each time, and thought that would be the end of it.

Then, I showed up to orientation.

Though I’d been given a time (the wrong one—mine started an hour later than the one I was told to go to), and I was obviously on some list of new hires, I wasn’t in the system except for last year’s intern records, which couldn’t be re-activated. My offer letter wasn’t printed, and I couldn’t get my badge or any of the other supplies the company gives out. No badge = no entry.

My acting manager, God bless ‘im, tried to figure out what he could do to help. The short answer: nothing, other than file a trouble ticket that says, “You guys hired this chick; make it so she can work!” (Which he did do, just so we’re all on the same page.)

So, I’ve had about 2 half-days of non-work so far. It happens. Just not usually to me, and I’m pretty frustrated that this continues to be an issue, but what can I do? I’ve already provided proof of my own existence other than my SSN, and I’ve provided my SSN. The rest really is up to HR—not like I can march in (no badge, remember?) and sit down and rearrange the entire system. Would that I could, but, well, from here, it’s a waiting game. Hopefully, it ends today.