That was quite a week, wasn’t it? Someone’s been busy. All I did was go to work, get a haircut, and try not to lose my damned mind over every New York Times app notification. Even my trusty Lamy 2000 fell apart.
At least Zen has had a great week. In between “spa treatments” (read: subcutaneous fluids) she’s been hand-fed baby food and otherwise fussed over pretty much non-stop.
For every task I completed, I added three more to my to-do list. And next week begins with catalog upgrades, which means downtime, which means falling even further behind. January: snowed under on both metaphorical and literal levels.
FunkyPlaid and I watched an episode of Daredevil, but were too bored to continue. We moved on to Black Mirror, which is terrific but probably not the best thing to be watching at the moment.
Aurally, it’s mostly movie soundtracks and Jelly Roll Morton for me.
Noodler’s Ottoman Azure: deep sapphire blue with plenty of shading for capturing the nuances of melancholy.
Featured photo: the sign we put up in our yard.
So many things were disrupted this week that I don’t know where to start. I’ll start with the most important: despite a health scare, Zen is okay.
On Thursday morning, Zen started to show signs of discomfort due to constipation, and by the early afternoon her health appeared to have deteriorated rather quickly. Despite our vet being closed due to the weather, we managed to get her an appointment with an emergency vet six miles away. But neither FunkyPlaid nor I could drive due to the state of the roads. Portland’s largest cab company had just stopped answering the phone, and another cab company let me schedule a cab ride hours in advance but then never called to tell me that they were running 30-45 minutes behind schedule. Thank goodness for Lyft drivers with chains and 4-wheel drive.
48 hours of hospitalization later, Zen is starting to approach her old self. She is still worn out from the procedures, but she is eating and drinking and purring and cuddling. Right now she is happily curled up in her favorite cardboard box. Her prognosis is good, especially for a cat about to turn twenty, and I am so grateful.
Of course, I have been a total wreck over this, plus I came down with my own illness on Thursday morning (a standard yet persistent head-cold), so it has not been the greatest of weeks on record.
And then there’s the snowpocalypse. Portland pretty much shut down on Tuesday evening and started to open back up again on Friday morning, but as of this writing the roads in our neighborhood are still packed with snow and ice. FunkyPlaid has been an expert forager, but I’m really, really, really tired of not being able to do basic things like drive to work or even walk to the bus stop safely.
I only had a two-day work week, and although I tried to enjoy the enforced downtime I am fairly stressed about everything that has piled up and is waiting for me tomorrow morning. RescueTime tells me that I have been 50% productive this week, which seems high for being snowed in and having a sick cat and the lurgy.
I was too restless to spend much time reading, but Mini Metro has been an exceptionally good distraction in times of stress. It’s a subway layout game; what’s not to love?
Spotify’s Winter Classical playlist is a treat, especially on snow days.
As a side note, I upgraded my car’s software so it now has CarPlay, which means I can listen to Spotify on the way to work! If I ever get to drive my car again.
Kaweco Summer Purple: a muted, calming purple. Breathe. Visualize the snow melting away … there, that’s better.
Hello from the midst of another Portland ice-pocalypse! FunkyPlaid and I have a fire going in the fireplace and still have power, but the sidewalks and roads are covered with ice. Now that I have somewhat recovered from last year’s Project 365, I thought I’d attempt this weekly review again.
To combat the winter doldrums, I’ve restarted my daily mood tracking with Exist, which also integrates data from various other services I use to find trends and correlations. Some of the correlations will be obvious – like a better mood on weekends – but I am looking forward to the less obvious ones.
One of the services that Exist integrates is RescueTime, which I use to track how I’m using my computer time. It tells me that I have been 65% productive, which is a 10.2% increase from last week. (That is an overall productivity score, not only during work hours, so it also includes how much faffing off I do online during nights and weekends. This is intentional.)
Three big deadlines hit all at once, which means that I spent too long in my office and felt pretty disconnected from my team. When I got home each night after work, I was too drained to do anything useful. But somehow I managed to begin a new short story draft!
I finished reading Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt which is a gorgeous novel. It perfectly captures that free-fall of a passionate love affair and all the ennui-ridden rumination that accompanies it. I’m looking forward to watching Carol now that I have read the source material.
I started reading You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life because that seems like a good plan for 2017.
This week I have been listening to a lot of Real Jazz on SiriusXM. I also listened to the La La Land soundtrack a couple of times and finally listened to the newest Dinosaur Jr. album, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not. Hearing Dinosaur Jr. again prompted me to once again attempt to reconstruct one of the best mixtapes I have ever received. (Adam, if you’re reading this, that mixtape haunts my dreams.)
FunkyPlaid and I saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and enjoyed it quite a bit. We also finished watching Westworld, which was ultimately a disappointment. I loved the first few episodes, at least. Then we started watching Luke Cage which I like so much more than Jessica Jones!
[ more tweets & retweets, etc. ._.-. this section will be better in the future ]
I gave Rohrer & Klingner’s Verdigris another go, but it is too dark for me. I’m still enamored with the cool greenish-grey of De Atramentis Charles Dickens. Maybe I should look for an ice-blue to go with all of this wintry weather … recommendations?
I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Boss’s Day, but one of my direct reports surprised me with a lovely card and cake.
Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: the chug of the dishwasher.
Books on management and productivity tend to leave me cold, but so far I am enjoying Victor Lipman’s “The Type B Manager: Leading Successfully in a Type A World”, especially the following sentence:
The core qualities of the Type B manager -- including calmness, thoughtfulness, and patience -- are qualities that people find easy to work with.
What about the absurd sense of humor and off-kilter fashion sense? I hope the author doesn’t forget those.
Tell me about your favorite manager.
Writing from: my study. Listening to: “Looped” by Kiasmos.
I enjoy unwinding from an intense day filled with “how do I do this thing that I normally know how to do but don’t yet know how to do in this context” with this walk to the bus.
I didn’t see any ROUSes, but while I was distracted by hummingbirds I was almost mowed down by a cyclist listening to loud country music. Ah, nature.
Writing from: my study. Listening to: my hard-drive chug as it converts PDFs to ebooks.
Tonight I took the WES commuter rail to the MAX light rail home. And then FunkyPlaid and I went out for some driving practice because I need to get my Oregon driver’s license ASAP. As much as I love public transit, 3 hours of commuting each weekday is draining.
Zen does not need to concern herself with such things. She spends her days lounging in the backyard, as happy as I’ve ever seen her.
Writing from: my study. Listening to: the tumble-dryer, because as soon as the laundry is done, I get to go to sleep.
Despite this being a Deluxe Handbag of Holding, I pushed it past capacity today. I’m still unsure what I’ll need for a full day of work plus public transit commutes, so I am definitely over-packing.
Note to self: you’ll fall asleep on the bus for at least the first couple of weeks, so stop bringing multiple books to read on the way home. Also, you work in a library.
Writing from: my study. Listening to: “Es Tut Mir Leid” by Stefano Guzzetti.
The first day of a new job is always hectic, and today was no exception. I’m less than an hour away from collapsing in a crumpled heap. But my new colleagues welcomed me thoroughly, and although I know this gig won’t be without its challenges, the mere prospect of doing it all again tomorrow makes me feel … well, see for yourself.
Now that it is official, I can break the news: I got a job! Next Monday I’ll join a local public library team as their circulation division manager. I’m failing at finding the right words for what this means to me right now. It’s big. And I’m so excited. Wish me luck.
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Today I visited the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library. I enjoyed a warm welcome from former coworkers and it was wonderful to be back in their company. But after an hour, the tenor of the reunion changed: I became desperately sad, missing it all so much, then overcome with the knowledge that the library and all the lives it contains exist separately from my memories of working there. The two are not the same. It’s easy to pretend they are from a distance.
After descending the magnificent central staircase so that I could snap today’s photo, I crossed the street and ducked into the Civic Center transit station. Two women on the Muni platform were singing “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me”:
I don't like you, but I love you Seems that I'm always thinkin' of you Though you treat me badly, I love you madly You've really got a hold on me
Writing from: a nostalgic room in Marin. Listening to: The Bobs’ cover of “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me”.
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Today I spent sneezing, coughing, and working on job applications. One in particular was due today, and I am so relieved that it is finally finished. For as much as I love job interviews – yes, really – I do not love job applications.
In other incredibly exciting news today, Zen met Jack. Jack was not bothered, but Zen sang and sang. At least she didn’t box his ears.
Writing from: Zen’s room in Marin. Listening to: Zen chugging water.
One of the most difficult yet valuable experiences I had over the past four years was working as an expat. My job search was fraught with disappointment but at the end of it I was hired for a more-than-half-time position in a local university’s information services department.
This was where I came face-to-face with being American in a work context. It was a humbling moment when I realised that despite speaking the same language as my colleagues I wasn’t always communicating well with them. I gained a new appreciation for what it meant to be an outsider, culturally-speaking, and I learned how to listen, really listen, to what people were saying … and to what they weren’t.
But it wasn’t all challenging: I met and worked with some astounding people with whom I never had to modulate my communication style. I looked forward to days shared with these coworkers because together we’d get our tasks done and have fun doing them. They were supportive, loyal, and generous to a fault, always up for a laugh and always cheering each other up during darker days.
Two of these wonderful people are the subject of today’s Project 365 photo, which I snapped (hastily, and somewhat poorly) over lunch. I’ll miss them tremendously, but they’ve given me such excellent memories to take with me that I can’t be too sad. And I know I’ll see them again soon.
Working with people I like and respect is never work.