Posts Tagged ‘work’

Work, work, work

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

I worked this weekend. I worked Monday night. Took last night off for yoga-ing and coffee and delicious bagels. (Yay!) And then I worked — at the office — until 8pm tonight, came home, ate dinner, watched an episode of MLP on our increasingly crappy internet connection, and have been working again for the last hour. (It took nearly an hour just for the 14 MB work file to download to my computer. Thank you, magic internet fairies.)

Tomorrow I get wake up extra early so I can waste … er, spend the day in Chicago with my coworkers, enduring pep talks and state-of-the-office presentations and team-building exercises. And then I take the train home early like the grumpy old lady I am while the others enjoy a boat tour and have dinner. Why? Because I have deadlines that cannot be missed.  So I will spend the evening working again, unless my twitchy, twitchy hand gives out.

Oh, and also there’s housecleaning to do. We have friends coming over Friday night. And then more work on Saturday, so I can get this thing printed in time for a Monday meeting. Oh, how I love the start of the academic year. You betcha.

On the plus side, I officially have a new boss who is not an academic dean. I am strangely hopeful.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do. And an early wake-up call. /grumblegrumblegrrrrr


Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

The green is finally showing … or is trying to, if the sky would just stop drowning it.

I’ve been sick since last Thursday, which made the long weekend mostly just long and boring and full of sleep. Today was my first day back at work to tackle lingering graduation deadlines, though I haven’t yet shaken the nasty cough.   So, I was pleased I managed to drag myself out of bed, skip breakfast, and make it to work on time for the shuttle … only to discover our pleasant bus driver waiting for me with his pleasant wave and cheerful call, “The bus is broken!”

Thus I began the half-mile trek from the parking lot to my building (yes, we’ve measured with a pedometer), coughing and dragging my sorry self along like the plague-bearing living dead I so closely resembled. By the way — there are zero zombie-proof buildings along that path, and a whole lot of college kids. For future reference. You know, in case we all wake up one day craving brain munchies.

Where was I? Right. Walking dead-ish. Now, normally I love the type of weather we had this morning — warm, muggy, a fine spring mist in the air. Beautiful driving weather, and perfectly fine for a 10-minute walk. Today, it felt like walking through asthma soup.

Actual conversation, upon arriving at the office:

Me: *coughcoughwheeze* /peel off too-warm jacket and collapse in a chair

Coworker Who Obviously Needs “A Favor”: Shari! I’m so glad you’re feeling better! Oh, did you do something with your hair?

Me: /blank, oxygen-deprived stare

CWONaF: It’s so cute and wavy!

Me: Ah. Yes, I have styled it with humidity and misery!

CWONaF: /confused laugh … slowly back away and decide, quite reasonably, to ask someone else for that “little favor” *

And then, I was informed the recommendation I needed to draft for a meeting on Thursday was now, in fact, due by 5 PM because the meeting had been changed to tomorrow while I was out. Also that I had an afternoon meeting with the dean. And I needed to proofread the doctoral section of the commencement program (three graduations’ worth of PhDs) by the end of the day. And oh, the templates for the annual reports and and my performance review were both due by Friday. And where was I on cataloging all the forms and processing payments and reviewing all the dissertations and theses that had been submitted?

There was more. I’ve just forgotten it all in the sweet, blessed embrace of NyQuil.

You see my point though. The day, to paraphrase internet muse John Allison, started off explodey and got explodier.  The situation obviously called for drastic measures.


Or maybe a red panda …? I’m flexible, here.


Yes, I did end up helping CWONaF. Because I am still the only person in the office who knows how to use Illustrator well enough to more or less recreate a file from a print example.  And despite my horrid antisocial leanings, I’m mostly a nice person when I’m not coughing up a lung and contemplating brain nibbles. Mostly.

January down

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Well, the deadline is past, anyway. I was nervous because the submissions had gone so well up until about Wednesday last week, when the problem children began to surface — and oh, were there some spectacular ones this time around.

Let’s just say I’m continuously amazed that TPTB are perfectly willing to give some of these people a PhD and send them out into the big bad world with their stamp of approval. We joke that the first test to see whether someone is eligible for graduation ought to be a simple one: following instructions. How do you possibly make it through four years of undergrad and up to eight years of grad school and still not know how to follow directions?


My hand is killing me. Far too much PDF viewing, mouse clicking, arrow key pushing and all that fun stuff. I think I’m developing a sensitivity to the Icy Hot adhesive tape I’ve been slapping onto those swollen tendons all week.

On the plus side, I accompanied Mom to her office dinner last night. She works for a surgeon, and his family and her office mates are all pretty cool. The doctor’s toddler grandkids were in attendance, and were scary cute, I have to admit. Also, the pomegranate martinis were as delicious this year as they were last.  Sadly (*cough*) I’m skipping my own office party this week to go gaming. My head may not be in the games so much these days, but still — given a choice?   Story time trumps office politics and Christmas speeches. I just don’t have the patience for the dean’s sermon this year, it turns out.

Mom and I drove past the old St. Joe hospital campus on our way downtown to the dinner last night, and later I borrowed her camera and went back to take pictures. The pavilion where she worked is all but gone, a skeleton of steel girders and wilted sheets of steel that remind me of a strange sort of seaweed hanging from its bones. You can see the ambient glow of the winter night straight through on the other side. Most of the main hospital itself is gone as well, and what’s left looks like the bombed-out set of an apocalyptic zombie flick. I’m just waiting for it to show up in my dreams — I dreamt about the old Studebaker corridor as a setting for years and years when I was a kid. That sort of massive structure urban decay seems to stick with me, for some reason.

Hello, deadline. Goodbye, deadline.

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Deadline day is done. Mostly. I’m home. I’m having a drink, and then, because I’m too, too nice on this, the third stupidest day of the year, I’m giving up a night of gaming to spend the evening helping a student fix her mess of a dissertation. Given my current grumpitude, maybe it’s for the best I’m staying in tonight.

And here I had been worrying that I might miss tonight because of the weather, which is actually sort of pleasant in that peculiar way only 35F can be, after a solid run of 20-something F days.

Welch’s mango twist juice makes an excellent base for vodka and triple sec, by the way.

Catching up

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Has it really been that long since I wrote here?

There has been busy-ness. In a nutshell:

  • A family wedding (middle brother!)
  • A friend wedding (geeks!)
  • Yard work
  • Freelance work
  • Work, work, work
  • Web tinkering (work)
  • Yoga (+ tea shopping)
  • Etrian Oddyssey III (too much)
  • Puzzle Quest II (done)
  • Writing (not enough)

There have also been musings, which have not been shared here — probably for the best. Musings on friendship and relationships and hobbies and stress and life in general. Perhaps it is something like a  ”midlife crisis” phase, but it feels like things are shifting in a different direction. I’m just not sure where it’s leading me, yet.

On another note, we escaped SB yesterday to enjoy a gorgeous drive up along the Red Arrow Highway from New Buffalo to St. Joseph. We had decided to try something new for dinner, so we stopped at Café Gulistan in Harbert. I had no idea what to expect going in, but it was delicious. We shared the shiitake mushroom appetizer and I had the Ispanak, which was hands-down the best falafel dish I’ve ever had — sweet and savory and satisfying. I also had my eye on a few MidEastern lamb dishes. I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve opted for something not-lamb, and did not end up with buyer’s remorse. I even had enough left over to bring for lunch. It’s a little pricey, but I highly recommend it if you have a chance.

I wasn’t aware, also, that Ibrahim Parlak‘s legal status was still in limbo. I thought that had all been cleared up. Apparently he’s still in danger of being deported at some point. WTF, Homeland Security?

Teaching: When gremlins lose their bite

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Today I spoke for five and a half hours. I’m pretty sure that used up my allotment of word-speaking for at least a week.

Normal operating procedure, when not on deadline, dictates that I spend the majority of any given work day in my office/lair, scrutinizing PDFs and pointing out their flaws with the tap-tap-tapping of plastic keys, growling at said keys when the inevitable gremlin-infested letter stickkkkkkkkkks, and giving the Spock Eye to that insufferable talky-device when it gives the odd bleat. On a good day — and by this I mean one without any meetings and a minimum of “Shaaari-ing” — I will say good morning to our kind and patient receptionist, chat agreeably with my lovely assistant once or twice, and remain otherwise mum until I return home.

Which is not to say I work in silence. Pandora keeps me company, and occasionally I do need to dust off the vocal cobwebs to assure doorway petitioners that, yes, I can accomplish this “favor” they ask. But I rarely need to speak for any length of time.

Today was not one of those “good” days. I had requested a summer session of our dissertation formatting class, and normal procedure for the class these days is that my friend M. actually does the teaching thing. I just show up about halfway through to answer questions. However, M. is too busy with another project this summer, so I was told that if I wanted to offer the class for our summer grads, I would have to teach it myself.

Much to M.’s eternal consternation, I finished the actual class early, as usual, but since we had a full house +, there were a lot of questions, and a number of students who stayed to have me look at a particular problem in their dissertation file. This was fine with me, since I’m always glad to catch problems early on in the process, except I had also made arrangements to use the classroom after hours to run through an abbreviated version of the same material for another group of students, and answer their questions, as well.

I am not a teacher; I am a typesetter. A layout artist, The Monica insists. I don’t have much call to use actual creativity in my day-to-day job, but I do enjoy puzzling out styles and margins and fonts and all the shiny tricks that programs like Word and InDesign can perform if you know how to lay the groundwork. For that piece of my job, conversation is only a distraction, and one I rarely seek out. Honestly, I could be designing the perfect operating manual, here people, if only you would cease your infernal yapping!

To me, there is something inherently satisfying in transforming raw text into a finished product, even in something as bland and consistent and dry as a dissertation’s required formatting. Even more satisfying, though, is the occasional and unexpected pleasure of sharing a minor bit of geek-fu with a zombified student who really only wants the project to be done, please god, and watching as a minor flash of understanding shifts to awe and then to a familiar glee when they see what this glitchy program they’ve been using since grade school can actually do if properly motivated. Even if they never have to use styles and section breaks and auto-populating tables of contents again, that proverbial lightbulb imparts a kind of fearlessness. It’s as if they’ve learned to tame a nightmare; suddenly the gremlins’ teeth aren’t quite as sharp. At that point, all that’s left to do is sit back and watch as they dig into the file and wrest that unruly beast into submission.

It’s a very small matter, in the grand scheme of things. They’ll forget that eureka euphoria within a few hours, if not sooner, and I’ll probably still find inconsistencies and minor glitches before they’re done, but the difference in attitude is remarkable and lasting — for a little while, at least.

To me, that alone makes the classes worthwhile.