Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Bad Sign?

Day 114/366: D'oh!

I saw this as I trudged through the rain and wind to sign some papers for my new contract job yesterday. Could it be some kind of portent of doom or metaphor for what this job is going to be like?

I do not consider myself to be a very good negotiator and I don't get to practice my negotiation skills very often--usually my clients just say something to the effect of: "This is what we're paying for the project; take it or leave it." Sometimes I do ask for a bit more money, but usually the fee is either fine with me or just so ridiculously low that I know there's no point in asking for double or triple what is being offered and I just turn down the job.

Without going into all the tedious details, I am still feeling good about taking on this job, despite the fact that there were a few uncomfortable moments in which I raised some questions that resulted in the contract having to go back to HR to have a new paragraph inserted. I somehow stuck to my guns instead of just caving and letting it go. Then I had to make a split-second decision about whether the new language addressed my concerns. I decided it did and signed on the dotted line, only to come home and wonder if I'd basically screwed myself over.

After waking up in the wee hours and lying awake for the past hour or so (it's now 5:00 AM), I've decided that I am not screwed. In fact, I think I somewhat inadvertently built in some good scheduling flexibility for myself and the client and added an option that will allow me to make additional money on this project (if I want to work extra hours). So it's all good. At least that is the light in which I am choosing to view it.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Troll Townhome?

Day 104/366: Troll Townhome

Or is it a hobbit hideaway, an elfin bomb shelter, a gnome hutch, a sprite shanty, or a leprechaun lair? You decide.

Edit: B just submitted some other possibilities. Try these on for size: pixie pen, hobgoblin homestead, gremlin roost, muggle motel, or faerie flophouse.



Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Acid (Fashion) Flashback

Psychedelic Jumpsuit

This is meant to be a drawing of me when I was about five-years-old. (Obviously, I am an embarrassingly poor artist.) It's not a very good likeness of me, but I have to say it is a surprisingly accurate rendering of the zip-up-the-front psychedelic jumpsuit my mom sewed for me.

Cue the Strawberry Alarm Clock and the Steppenwolf!

I picked out the shiny, slinky, static-clingy (rayon? Dacron? Orlon? Klingon?) fabric myself, and I'm certain I picked out the pattern as well from the 4-inch thick Simplicity pattern book. My mom then sewed it up for me, taking all manner of short-cuts, as she was wont to do when sewing. She always dispensed with facings and did all hemming on the machine rather than by hand as purists would do. I can't blame her--by the time she made the jumpsuit she had me, my toddler brother, and my infant sister to contend with. It's a wonder she had time to sew anything.

I adored this jumpsuit. It was by far the coolest item of clothing I had ever owned.

Sadly, I outgrew it rather quickly. I remember running around with the hems of the pantlegs flapping at about mid-calf. My mom intervened and hemmed up the legs to make them shorts-length. At some point a photo was taken of me sitting at the edge of a swimming pool in the abbreviated psychedelic shortysuit. That photo eventually made its way into a photo cube that sat on my dad's office desk for years until he retired in the mid-1980s. My dad was our high school's band director, so my friends (most of whom were in band) all got to look at my younger, much groovier self every time they went into my dad's office for their sightreading tests. Hope it didn't interfere with their ability to concentrate and make them flub up.

Shout out to Writermama (I know she loves that term "shout out") for the idea of blogging fashion memories and for her recommendation of the illustrated memoir Love, Loss, and What I Wore by Ilene Beckerman, which I absolutely loved and which gave me the courage to try doing my own drawings--even though I suck! I may rip off her book in its entirety. I've already made a list of some memorable (not to mention laughable) fashion forays of mine that might lend themselves to illustration and ridicule (e.g., the sexpot band uniform, the urine-yellow swim suit, and the shamrock pantsuit).

Update: Thanks to all who expressed concern about my right boob. The results from the second mammogram came back today and were normal. Whew!

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

In Overthink Overdrive

I have simply got to learn how to live in the moment and cease my constant analysis of every move I make and how it may or may not adversely affect my future.

For weeks now, I've been fretting and obsessing over various work-related crap. For example, I probably spent a couple of weeks--off and on--mulling over how to gracefully exit a client relationship without burning bridges and jeopardizing the payment of outstanding invoices. Yesterday, I spent way way way way way too much time crafting an e-mail excusing myself from three days of horrendous-sounding meetings in California, because A) it would be really stressful to have to be in schmooze mode for three days straight with a roomful of middle-aged men, most of whom I've never met and will never meet again and B) I might be working full-time somewhere else by then and C) it just sounds like pure unmitigated hell.

You see what I'm talking about--the obsessing and overthinking of these things that most people probably just, well, do. All the time. I don't know if it's because I'm self-employed and have a much greater degree of control over how I spend my time or what. But I do know that I've been feeling incredibly unsettled and nervous about work lately, mostly because there hasn't been quite enough of it, but also because I'm sort of maybe kind of moving in a new direction, but I'm not sure I want to.

This new direction is an actual full-time, albeit temporary, job that would require me to spend "significant time" on site in an office that is not in my home--something I haven't done in 11 years. I have all sorts of reservations about that. This job could very well swallow my summer whole. I'd probably have to turn down work from valued longstanding clients--always risky. The work itself is very much an unknown quantity and could end up being a total nightmare in so many respects. But it could also offer an opportunity for me to add some new high-demand skills to my portfolio that could stand me in good stead in years to come.

But why am I worrying about all this now? Why don't I just forget about it all until Monday when I have an interview with these folks and I can ask them some questions, get some answers, and make an informed decision about whether I want to continue to pursue this? Isn't that what most people would do?

I've been this way my whole friggin' life--always trying to squint into the future and read people's minds and suss out ulterior motives/motivations. It's completely exhausting and I don't even want to think about how much time (years?) has been devoted to this kind of fruitless speculation.

It has simply got to stop. That is, I've simply got to stop myself from doing this to myself. I was thinking about trying to break this damaging habit this morning when the phone rang. The caller ID display showed that it was my doctor's office. Before I even answered the phone, I started off on that familiar path. Why are they calling? They only call if there's a problem. I'll bet it's something to do with the mammogram I had on Monday and that BB-sized "very cystlike" lump that my doctor detected during her (very thorough--ouch) examination of my breasts. The thing that she told me "not to lose sleep over."

Yeah, all of that before I picked up the phone. Yes. They do want me to come back for another mammogram, like "how about tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM?" They're being cautious. Fine. What a perfect opportunity for me to not start recalling that the last time I had to go back in for another mammogram because of some "anomalous nodule" (or something like that) I got a letter not a phone call. Now what could that mean that this time they called me on the phone? Only that it's urgent, urgent, urgent!!!!! Right? Or maybe they just changed their procedure. Anyway, I will present myself there at 9:00 sharp tomorrow morning. They'll take some more images and then I should just put it out of my mind until I hear back from my doctor next week.

B persuaded me that the best possible thing for me to do was to take the rest of the day off and go out for a hike with him to Angel's Rest in the Columbia River Gorge. A nice little workout--five miles and 1,500 feet of elevation gain, which makes it a pretty steady climb. Despite some haze, it was a glorious hike. The foothills in Washington had lots of snow on them and there was even a bit of snow lingering up at the top of the cliff. Lovely and peaceful, except for the guy who decided he needed to pull out his cell phone on top of the mountain and have an inane conversation. I wanted to snatch it out of his hand and hurl it over the cliff. B told me I needed to raise my threshold and just tune him out.

He was right. He was right about something else, too. The hike was exactly--exactly--what I needed today to help me get some perspective and give me some context for what it means to live in the moment and to reflect on just how lucky I am to be able to rearrange my schedule to play half a day of hooky when I need it and to live in a place where I can do that.