Saturday, April 30, 2016

May Flowers

I discovered this song last Sunday and I can't stop listening to it:

Things have been pretty busy but good!

My room-mate's sister came to visit over Patriot's Day weekend. I was a little nervous about making a good impression.  But all of us had a really nice time.  We introduced her to Mystery Science Theater with "I Accuse My Parents". I made my slow cooker brisket recipe for dinner and we got in a game of Monopoly. Pro-tip -  apparently drinking wine while playing guarantees a win!

I also went to the Boston marathon with a group of friends around mile 20 in Newton. That was a blast! The weather was gorgeous and everyone was so nice. We picked various ways to cheer runners.  I decided to yell at every red head runner, "Go gingers!" Afterwards, we grabbed drinks and lunch. We discovered Citizen Cider's The Dirty Mayor which is like cider champagne deliciousness.

Work has been pretty good. Super Boss and I are back to normal after a couple weeks of tentativeness. Those awkward tip-toeing days made me a little sad because I felt like I broke our rapport. But we settled back to our regular vibe but with better boundaries like I call with questions rather than constantly popping into his office. When I do poke my head in, I always ask if it's a good time and now he tells me that he is going to a meeting in 5 minutes. I also respect his closed office door.

He was training me on a reporting process the Tuesday after the marathon when I told him that I had been yelling "Go gingers!" to red head runners. He got really concerned and said very seriously that I should not have done that.  That ginger is really insulting that he and his buddies have gotten into bar fights over using that word. I took that in and scanned his deadpan face hoping for a hint of humor.  Nope.  He wasn't trying to put one over on me - he was dead serious. For the rest of the day, I was horrified that I had basically screamed the red head version of "nigger" at people in public. I was also confused how I had absolutely no idea how insulting the word is.  My room-mate came to the rescue in addition to several friends on Facebook. Look at my profile picture. I come from a family of red heads Scots/Irish.  Guess what? Me saying ginger isn't insulting because hello freckles, reddish hair, and ghostly skin. Super Boss with his olive skin and black hair from Italian/Russian roots - insulting!

This past week was our last week to fix 1095-Cs.  I worked last Sunday with the plan of checking the penultimate coding file for maybe an hour with only a couple tweaks.  Guess what? Within five minutes of opening the file, I found hundreds of coding issues. Super Boss came in and we were both so discouraged and stressed. He said the only thing that is helping him get through the day was the Game of Thrones premiere that night.  Ha!

We needed to get 8000 correct forms stuffed and to our mailing room by Friday at 3:00pm.  Monday to Wednesday we were still testing coding. Super Boss stayed until midnight two nights in a row.  We don't have a high speed printer so we kept getting jams trying to get the forms out - the forms that needed to be kept in order.  Thursday, I spent 6 hours stuffing envelopes with help from various people in our department. Worker Bee Analyst and I found an error on a couple of letters where the zip code was printed twice.  Worker Bee begged me not to tell Super Boss.  Knowing Super Boss' need for perfection, he would want to reprint everything - so yeah I kept my mouth shut. Also, Worker Bee gets a good read on situations.  I ignored his warnings a couple weeks ago which lead to that horrible blow up and broken clock.  The 6 hours of straight envelope stuffing did a number on my neck, arm and back (car accident residual injury). I got home after 8pm, got in my PJs, grunted at my room-mate, and went to bed.  We got all the forms out by the deadline Friday.

Stressed/ no sleep Super Boss has an awesome sense of humor. He kept me laughing the last couple of days. I got really excited that one of our interns' cousins went to Mount Holyoke and I was gushing about Happy Valley. Cue Super Boss commenting, "Oh that dump..." my face just had a second to get pouty and I took a breathe to launch into a defense when Super Boss laughed and nodded - letting me know he got me.  Another time I was in his office and I asked him a question about China. He made a really deadpan observation about Chyna then I was doubled over leaning on his desk laughing my ass off.  Two days of high stress and buckets of laughing wasn't too horrible!

This is my one free weekend for the next month.  Next weekend is a girls night and Mother's Day, the next is my cousin's wedding shower, the next is Cyndi Lauper and Boy George, and then Memorial Day weekend is a 3 day camping trip Friday to Monday with a group of 9 friends.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Good News!

Firstly, acupuncture for dealing with emotional BS totally helps! I've done acupuncture for physical pain before so the needles didn't freak me out. The practitioner was really gentle, kind, and warm. He let me talk, ask questions, and cry. Whatever he did, felt like a weight had lifted from me. The Friday horribleness did not have the emotional hold on me anymore. So, I'm going to add this to my wellness routine!

My early morning emergency therapy session went well and I had a lot of good guidance like cutting Super Boss a wide berth today. Also, making a routine of doing something relaxing each day.

I walked into work with a lot of tools under my belt and coping advice. I had been in my office barely 5 minutes when Super Boss appeared in my doorway asking if we could talk. We had a good talk, I got to apologize, he apologized, we explained where our head were at Friday, and got into boundaries. Super Boss had a whole list of things I don't need to do and alternatives for me. I almost started laughing because altogether, I sounded like one pushy broad! But I know the examples he used were random instances where I remembered feeling like I was interrupting or was unsure about how to approach something. The upshot is that I'm getting a verbal warning and we're cool.

The final amazingly good thing from today is when I was chatting with a co-worker about Friday. I apologized for the drama and thanked her for lending me an ear in the midst of it all. This is a grandmother of four and she told me a couple months ago she came into work in the morning and basically had a tantrum. That we can never know what will set us off. 

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Broken Things

This blog is about my life on my path to wisdom, healing, and self-knowledge. Friday afternoon, I set in motion a series of events at work that I am deeply ashamed of.  I wasn't aware of it at the time but I kept pushing and pushing Super Boss in an abusive manner so I got to win by being the victim of him storming into my office and yelling at me. It doesn't matter the he said, she said of it play by play. I was unprofessional and disrespectful to my boss. He was really struggling Friday so he couldn't deal with my drama and he just announced "That's it." grabbed his coat and walked out.  The former director wound up running after him.  I was in the Staffing Manager's office crying.  I played my trump victim card floating the idea that I might rescind my senior analyst application.

I went back to my office to tie some work up and I saw Super Boss return to his office. I went to his door and apologized. He was completely disheveled and was crying in his dark office. He said, "Just leave." weakly when I finished. I gathered my stuff to leave and closed my office door, then the clock on the wall fell and shattered next to me.  This is around 4:45 and the handful of people left yelled asking if I was okay.  Super Boss came out of his office concerned. I told him I was fine and will clean it up. Because nothing is more awesomely pathetic and victimy than picking up broken glass crying. Oh yeah, when I want to feel pathetic, I can go all out. I got in another abusive parting shot at Super Boss that set him off again because I am that fucked up.

I cried on the train ride home and it turns out my roommate was on the same train so she met me in the station lobby with a big hug.  I called my mom who pointed out all the bullshit psychodrama I had unfurled at work.  She told me that Super Boss had every right to tell me to fuck off and how I acted could jeopardize my job.  I needed to hear these things and it helped. She also gave me advice on how to handle Monday.

To be quite frank dear readers, I have written a lot here about how Super Boss has been so supportive, kind, and my biggest champion. I don't always treat him like he's the best boss I've ever had. He is.  I get caught in testing him for dumb psychological reasons. I test his patience, I test his compassion, and I test until I guess I win by making a kind decent man explode yelling at me?  It's easier for me to deal with brutishness than compassion and patience.

I have a therapy appointment Tuesday - which I am going to try to move to Monday.  I also booked an acupuncture appointment tomorrow. My plan is to see if Super Boss wants to talk about it, if he does I will apologize listing the steps I'll take to handle things better.  I don't think I am going to be fired. I'll probably get a written warning and have a meeting between him, I, and the Staffing Manager. I am also considering writing a formal letter of apology.

The mountain of shame and regret I am digging out of is deserved and completely exhausting. You know what really killed it for me? The Staffing Manager kept saying how Super Boss has nothing but great things to say about me and a co-worker gave me a huge hug telling me that our department needs 10 Chokmahs and how I shouldn't let Friday ruin my weekend. I work with good people - and I need to make sure I treat them well darn it!

Friday, April 01, 2016

1095-C, Life Ruiner

Remember those 8,000+ tax forms that we got saddled with printing?  They are benefits forms. Benefits data in our system is absolute crap because the Benefits Team aren't analysts or IT savvy. We relied on a contract business analyst last year to help us fix benefits data and interpret IRS regulations into logic coding for the 1095-C.

Guess what? Data was still wrong and the regulations logic was coded incorrectly to produce those 8,000 forms.  The benefits department was flooded with complaint calls.  March 25, Super Boss was given the job to fix the entire mess.  Not the Benefits Manager or IT Manager.  Super Boss. The form mailing due date was March 31.

This past week has been absolute hell, dipped in burning bullshit.  Super Boss is going to resign in the near future.   He can't continue working at our company anymore.  I know his health, spirit, and marriage are suffering.

He was so utterly overwhelmed and miserable trying to decipher the IRS regulations, working until at least 9p.m. at night. He wound up completely blowing up at anyone in the vicinity of my office Tuesday. Crying in his office, telling me that he was handed the job to fix this mess as a set up for failure so the higher ups can fire him.  I sat with him for hours trying to help interpret the regulations and scope a fix. At one point, he said quietly, "I guess I am going to quit Friday with no job lined up."  I sent an urgent email to our former director asking him to swing by because Super Boss was in The Dark Place.  I asked Baby Analyst around 2:30 Tuesday to grab Super Boss lunch since he kept insisting he had no time to get food. Tears leaked from his eyes when she put two slices of pizza and a Pepsi on his desk. Tuesday was bad. I was so panicked and unable to help, I sent an email to the Higher Ups Tuesday evening listing all the wonderful things about Super Boss and how important he is to our department. I cried my heart out to my room-mate and my mom on the phone.  Both made me feel a ton better.

Wednesday morning, I decided to tell Super Boss that he is basically family to me, that I want him to be happy, when he hurts I am sad, and that I will always have his back.  I also told him that he had every right to be upset and say the things he said Tuesday.  He got teary and thanked me.  He also told me his wife is really pissed at him about all the late nights he's working, that fixing the 1095-C form is hurting his non-work life.  So yeah, remember how I said that since he's family I want him to be happy? Damn it - I kinda know logically he needs to jump ship ASAP but I would really miss him. Wednesday we tried calling the IRS, our healthcare provider, and similar companies to get some kind of handle of how to code these damn tax forms.  On the plus side, we found out we could mail a letter that would give us a thirty day extension!

Thursday, we finally got some kind of guidance on coding from an outside consultant.  Super Boss actually smiled!  We are going to spend the next 3 weeks fixing the code, testing, and sending out a whole new batch of forms

Today was an okay day 90% coding testing but after I mentioned to Super Boss about potential summer vacation plans, he mentioned he will be taking off a chunk of July himself "...if I am still here." I said, "Ha, ha April Fools" and went back to my office to cry.  I was a monotone, snippy bitch to him the rest of the afternoon because I am professional woman gosh darn it!  We had a phone call and I apologized explaining why I was upset - he assured me that he has no prospects now but I should not be surprised if it happens. I brushed up my resume when I got home tonight. Super Boss sent this tonight,

"Fellow team members,

I just want to thank all of you for all your assistance and support over the course of this past week.  I have fallen severely behind on e-mails, voicemails, assigned projects and daily tasks in order to dedicate time to 1095-C.  I imagine that many of you have as well.  Some of you were directly impacted by my inability to be available and for this I am sorrowful and am asking to be excused.

I appreciate all your efforts and dedication in trying to move us along in a positive direction on the 1095-Cs.  The struggle is real.  The confusion is authentic.  But I believe we are on a path towards clarity thanks to all your hard work, research and questioning.  Your labor is for a good cause and I am so grateful to serve on a team with each of you.  Without you so much of what the Analyst team delivers would just not be possible.

Despite all of this week’s mayhem and crammed learning, you continued to move theX project along, continued to test Y and Z approval issues (are we done testing?), continued to respond to alpha questions, and continued to do your daily, weekly and monthly tasks as best as possible.  That is amazing stuff.

Thanks for all you do"

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Meditative Thinking For Non-Meditators

Last weekend I made a decision.  Since I am so stressed at work, anxious about Donald Trump, and have been struggling to treat myself well, I needed to figure shit out.  I had a bad spiral into negativity at work last week and unknowingly was saying nasty things about myself in front of Super Boss. So we had a run in, he got pissed, I apologized, he and I had a talk about the morass of frustrations we're stuck in. I kept asking him why does it matter what I say about myself and he said it creates a hostile workplace. In a phone call with my brother later that night he said, "Good for him [Super Boss].  You know he's right?" Two days later my mother said that same exact thing and I started laughing, "Did all three of you have a talk and decide to get me right with myself?"

My decision last weekend is to choose to focus my attention. I would stop myself from worrying about should haves, could haves, and what ifs.  The way I did this is when I felt the only familiar "Oh God, maybe..." worry brewing in my mind, I would go through a mental checklist - where am I, what am I doing, how do I feel. Somehow it worked! It wasn't easy on the more stressful days this past week but holy smokes I was so much happier!

The timing could not have been better for figuring this out because Super Boss and Baby Analyst had a really shitty couple of days.  Our analyst group got saddled with printing over eight thousand tax forms on a printer that overheats and jams.  On top of this we had to keep each form in an exact order because we had to run them through twice - once for tax data and second time for mailing address.  Super Boss handled printing the first three thousand and I completed the rest Tuesday. It was so nice Tuesday morning Super Boss came into my office and said, "I need help.  Can you help me" looking so tired and stressed and I told him of course I could help and thanked him for asking. Wednesday Baby Analyst found out in a meeting that she is going to be saddled with more administrative work because there is basically no one else who can do the work.  She has been an Analyst II for almost a year and she still is stuck doing her old administrative assistant work.  She was not happy. Her method of not being happy at work is not talking to anyone and looking miserable. Super Boss, her and I had a meeting to review a project we need to work on and she was just emanating sheer misery. Super Boss and I basically had whole conversations with concerned looks and tried gently to ask if she's okay. After the meeting, Super Boss turned to me, saying that he needed to fix this by talking to Mandroid and hopefully thinking of new solutions. My method of fixing it was going to Baby Analyst's office and informing her that we were having a talk.  She didn't do much talking other than insisting she is fine and crying.  I told her that I understand how much it sucks and that Super Boss and I are in her corner.  Afterwards I told Super Boss, "Man, I had no idea how it felt watching someone cry knowing you can't help so, mad props to you!"

Wednesday night, Super Boss found out some of the tax information was wrong, some of the forms were out of order, the printer ran out of toner, and was at the office until 2:00 AM.  He told me Thursday morning that if he had a job lined up, he would have totally quit Wednesday.  Thursday, an intern and I finished the second round of printing. I had a split second worry/thought that I could have accidentally gotten the forms out of order and screwed things up for Super Boss but where was I, what was I doing, and how do I feel.

I had two good talks with Mandroid.  He isn't a full Mandroid necessarily - maybe Vision? He listened to me, thanked me, and gave me good feedback/ideas.  Also, we had a kinda deep philosophical talk that made me appreciate his human-ness more.  Super Boss and I had a chance to discuss a lot of stuff.  He totally understands the Trump worrying plus he sent me some very good articles and I helped him with a worry/frustration he has about all the work our team is being saddled with.  I suggested thinking about it like every new project adds a tool to our toolbox. "Just call us tools." I joked.

The best part of the week is we had our first weekly Analyst team meeting!  We haven't had a weekly meeting for months and I missed them - they helped me learn from hearing what everyone is working on.  We talked about a lot of stuff this first meeting, Baby Analyst was in a hilarious mood, Worker Bee Analyst had great ideas, and there were a lot of laughs. I love how sometimes when Baby Analyst, Worker Bee Analyst, and I run with an idea, Super Boss gives me a look like, "What have I just started?" with a wry grin.  He announced that each week one of us would be running the meeting, cue Baby Analyst freaking out, Worker Bee teasing her, and me saying, "If you want the inmates running the asylum, sure!" then Super Boss' Look.

Have I ever mentioned Super Boss is a pretty fabulous feminist? He got worked up in a discussion with me after the analyst meeting saying how he doesn't like how people get encouraged to work on safe unchallenging work, especially females. He wants us to be challenged and stretch ourselves.  I told him that awesome Sarah Silverman anecdote from her pickup basketball team.  She's the only female and every basket she misses makes her feel like she has let down her entire gender but she looks at the guys on her team, they just shrug off their missed baskets.  My point was that when you're a protected class/minority failure carries a lot more anxiety/weight but I loved the goal to challenge stretch and grow.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Drumpf Freakout

The other dayI told a co-worker that there are only twelve people in the world with my last name and I am related to them and love them all.  She was surprised there were so few. I responded, "The rest of my family were murdered by Nazis."  So, nowadays while people are comparing Trump to Hitler, I have been really struggling. The struggle goes beyond disgust and horror at the U.S. political climate. 

My father is a WWII survivor. I grew up knowing children can starve and die.  WWII was not a memory for my family. It permeated my childhood letting me know that safety is not a guarantee.  I knew how lucky that we had food and clothes but that could all go away.  We also had volumes of albums made by my grandmother.  As I turned each page, I saw pictures of my father and my uncles growing up. But with each page turn, I also saw this disconnected faraway look grow in the little boys' eyes. They didn't have a childhood, they survived. And now they make up those twelve people left in the world with my last name. 

I want safety to be a guarantee for everyone. I want children to be able to play without fear.  I want to be proud of this country that took my father's family in as refugees. I want families to love and grow - not just survive. I don't think everyone in America has these same wants and that terrifies me. When I commute to work, I look around the train car trying to figure out who is a Trump supporter. Because I grew up knowing safety is not a guarantee and all that I have can be taken away. I also know how many "Other" boxes can be ticked off for me.  

While each week at work, a new person is being forced to resign so I feel tense and anxious, I feel just as tense and anxious just simply living in this country.  John Oliver helps "Clown town, fuck the world, shit show" was my spirit buoy. Chicago, North Carolina, and Kansas City protests lessens the cloud of despair following me everywhere.  I'm probably going through something like John Mulaney says, "Jews don’t daydream, cause folks are after ‘em and they gotta stay sharp, you know what I mean? They have to be there. They haven’t let their minds wander since Egypt." 

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Holy Crap Lots of News!

This past week has been insane. Friday, Super Boss was out sick and hooked up to IVs. I barely saw him most of the week. Tuesday and Wednesday he was shut up in his office working on a ton of deadline items and cancelling meetings with me over and over. I caught up with him for a bit Wednesday evening going over a report and I tried non-urgently asking him about what was going on. His response, "I can't tell you."
Thursday morning all of HR got a sudden meeting invitation from the big Human Resources head honcho - the one who reports to The Powers That Be. All the managers met ten minutes beforehand. So, of course, with my history, I was trying not to go to the "Oh shit. Lay-offs!" panic. I tried really, really hard but as we filed into the conference room, all the managers were standing against the far wall. The dread in the pit of my stomach grew so I took a deep breath and told my face not to react the whole meeting.
I didn't get laid off but our department director is being replaced. Super Boss' boss - someone who has worked in the department for almost 25 years. A guy who is really nice and also drove me nuts sometimes. Head Honcho warned us this is the first of future changes. Some corporate suit is replacing our department director. I call him Mandroid. The department director will stick around for a bit to help with the transition. In my head, I made up a wishful story that he wasn't being forced out and that it was mutual because I know he has been stressed and miserable lately. But he totally is being forced out by The Powers That Be that chose to scapegoat him for bullshit that isn't his fault.
Super Boss knew a day beforehand and he felt really bad. The department director swung by our offices in the afternoon to have a little chat. He is doing okay, pretty resigned to the fact. I pointed out that he could spent more time with his grandchildren, get his blood pressure down, and focus on his health. He smiled at me and said, "That's a way to look at it." I nodded joking pointing at myself, "Yeah, that's also delusional."
Super Boss and I finally had our long delayed meeting. He kept saying how awful he felt but he meant like he felt like he was going to puke. We agreed it was probably stress so I told him to suck on a mint to settle his stomach. He still was feeling awful and was trying to go home early but got bogged down with more work. I called him several times just to order him, "Go home!" Since he didnt and it was 5:30, I stood in his doorway and demanded what he was doing. He was pale sitting at his computer wrapped in his winter coat.
Prince Analyst has been fired. Super Boss was just officially wrapping that up. Apparently Prince Analyst had informed him that he would not be able to return to work until April. This guy only worked as an HR Analyst for two full months since November. I'm glad we officially have a vacancy now. But I said to Super Boss, "Holy shit, the day you've had! I would feel sick too..." He got weepy all over again about our director being booted. I offered to give him a ride home since I had chosen to drive to work Thursday. He pointed out that he could get me sick, I shrugged and said I have a strong immune system.
Friday I dragged myself to work even though I was sick. Worker Bee Analyst was out sick in addition to Super Boss being out. I got what I needed to get done and went home by noon. Super Boss texted me later that afternoon that he has a norovirus and low blood pressure. He was so dehydrated, he needed IVs. I think I dodged that bullet thanks to coming home early, sleeping, and hydrating.