Day One-Hundred-and-Twenty: Full-time badass/writer

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“So I want the monogram to read M-A-X P-O-W…”

 

I am happy to announce that an actual real-life company has deemed me employable. Yeah! Not that any of you ever doubted that, right? (Right?)

So, I have a full-time job.

This is both awesome and scary.

It’s a big tick in the ‘Growing up and getting my shit together’ box, and a big step further into the adult world–which, let’s face it, still makes me feel like Will Ferrell in Elf.

I spent my first day as a technical writer being shown around the building, having stuff explained to me in a “we’re not trying to overwhelm you, but you probably need to know this” kind of way, and double-checking that they had hired the right person and I was not part of some switched-at-interview mix-up.

It’s not that I’m super surprised that someone would give me a job–I do have a degree now, and a not-useless set of skills–but a lot of writers only dream of being paid (in a full-time position) to just, well, write.

When I get a census form whenever the fuck those things come out (every five years, apparently, so I’ll be waiting until 2016), or am filling out any other form that asks for my occupation, I can actually put the word ‘writer’ in my job title. Not a vague ‘Administration’ or ‘Hospitality’ (because KFC totally counted) or ‘Sales’, but a studied-to-get-a-freaking-degree-in-this writer.

This is a serious win.

 

“I thought you studied journalism,” some of my more observant friends will point out.

This is true. I did study journalism. I also had a second major in Creative and Professional Writing.

“But didn’t you want to be a journalist?” the same friends will tactlessly push.

While it is true–though, admittedly, shocking–that a student of journalism would be considering a career as a journalist, asking the above is a bit like asking a science student, “But didn’t you want to be a scientist?” It’s kind of reductive to assume that the broad set of skills one obtains in each of those degrees would only be useful and desireable in one single job. (Besides, ‘scientist’ is about as vague as you can get. Some of those guys don’t even wear lab coats and swirl beakers. I know!)

I did consider getting a job as ‘a journalist’, and even applied for a few, but at the end of the day, my most basic desire is to work as a writer. I want to have a job where the skills that I paid a painful amount of money (that I don’t yet earn enough to pay back–writing jobs, eh?) to get are being used. If that job is as a journalist: great. I love journalistic writing; I’ll probably do it on the side anyway. If it turns out, as it has, that a job as a technical writer ticks those boxes, then I am happy to broaden my horizons beyond the expected, and get some new skills to boot. Someone actually wants to pay me to do what I love? Show me to my desk.

So, here’s to Monday to Friday, bussing to the city, budgeting with an actual income, challenges and new experiences, and the impending appearance of some kick-ass business cards.

 

TB

Technical Writer/Bad-Ass M.C.

Day Seventy-Four: Say no to House-Shame

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Oh, hi! Thanks for dropping by. I’m just whipping up a three-course meal… in heels. Just like I do every day.

 

My grandparents came to visit me on Friday. They were dropping off a really decent appliance that they never use (which, as an aside, has got to be the best thing about moving out for the first time. We got couches, table and chairs, and coffee tables the same way). Their bonus reason for dropping by was to check out my new place. Now, we’re hardly living in squalor, but I still found myself falling into the apparently innate sense of house-shame that comes with, well, having a house.

I call it house-shame, because, the way I see it, someone who is house-‘proud’ wouldn’t feel the need to hide the state of their living quarters. “This is my house,” they would announce as you walked through the door. “Yes, people live in it–hence, the slightly-less-than-clean evidence of human occupation.” I’ve always been a bit of a neat freak (though it manifests itself as ordered chaos usually), but I’ve never been the type to get down and scrub the grout with a toothbrush.

I’ve been to friends’ and relatives’ houses before and been made to suffer the whole “oh, sorry about the mess”, where ‘the mess’ is two plates on the sink and a cushion that has tumbled from the couch to the floor. In most cases, I just laugh and tell them not to be silly. But still they persist: “I was going to vacuum before you came, but I just ran out of time, what with the baby and eating breakfast and responding to the call of nature. God, I am SO sorry.”

The first thing these people need to know about me is that I don’t notice microscopic specks of dirt; I’m much more of an ‘admire the furniture’ kind of girl. Unless I am being stained, injured, or bitten, then your house is fine. If I can’t see the floor for coke cans, then yes, perhaps you might want to have a little tidy up, but I’m not going to tell you so unless you ask. The second thing they should recall is that I’ve just moved out, and discovered, much to my disappointment, that houses don’t clean themselves and that a ‘weekly clean’ comes around way too quickly. There’s also that pesky correlation between a freshly vacuumed floor and the increased tendency to drop stuff on it.

A lot of this house-shame stems from the media (of course–everything is their fault). There was a Harpic toilet cleaner ad not long ago that always made my blood boil. A woman sits at home with her (clearly newborn) baby having just coaxed the little thing to sleep. She’s looking pretty good, by the way; no poo or spew in sight. The doorbell rings and the baby starts to scream. Remarkably Clean Mum opens the door to find about five of her girlfriends bearing gifts and loud greetings. The Harpies push their way inside without an invitation and crowd around the overwhelmed mother, cooing. Well, most of them do. One asks if she can use the toilet, because, you know, the drive over was so long and she couldn’t bear to hold it until she had at least complimented the new mother on her child and been offered a drink. (Maybe I’m being too judgmental though. She might have a bladder problem.) The new mother looks stricken. The trauma causes an unbidden flashback to earlier in the day, when the mother had strolled smiling into her bathroom and hooked a new Harpic 3-in-1 Toilet Thingy up to her potty. I can only assume that her baby was asleep or under the supervision of some now-absent father. I know when I have a baby, the first thing I’ll do when they fall asleep is clean the toilet, not, you know, pass out myself from the physical drains of taking care of a crying, pooping machine that sucks the very life out of you via your breasts (or symbolically via a bottle). The flashback fades, and Super Mum seems content that her toilet-cleaning efforts are up to scratch. “Sure,” she smiles at her rude bitch of a friend. Cut to rude bitch poking her head through the bathroom door, sniffing (!!), and giving a little nod, as if to say, “yes, these facilities are fit to host my snobby butt and the golden, sweet-smelling effluent that flows from there.”

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The final insult comes with the tagline: If only everything stayed this fresh (or something, my sound broke) as two of the intruders sniff at the baby. Yes, ladies, babies shit themselves–it’s one of their only defence mechanisms against annoying twats like you.

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I have many problems with this ad (in case you didn’t pick that up during my description of it). For one, if I’ve just had a baby, don’t turn up on my doorstep unannounced in a group of five shrieking about how you want to see the baby sooo bad like right now. Second, don’t presume to use my facilities the minute you walk through the door. If you do need to go so damn badly, quietly slip away and find the loo yourself so that I don’t have to hear about it. Third, if you are lucky enough to be granted access to my ‘facilities’, remember that I have the above-mentioned eating, pooping succubus to consider, and don’t even think about judging the cleanliness of my home (or anyone’s, for that matter. Is it alligator free? Then you’ve got yourself a useable toilet, my friend). Finally, if my kid drops a load of chocolate buttons while you’re holding him, offer to change him instead of wrinkling your nose like a twelve-year-old and muttering about it to the woman next to you.

I don’t have a baby, so arguably I shouldn’t be afforded the same lenient treatment as a new mother. But then, I have two jobs, a band, and a social life, so perhaps I should be. Or perhaps it doesn’t matter because nobody invites you into their house to judge it unless they’re selling it or featuring in one of those god-awful “Lady Pennyweather opens up her wonderful country manor to Vapid Woman”.

Before my grandparents arrived, I did wipe down some tables and pull the doona up to cover the tangled mess of sheets on the bed. This is what I call ‘tidying’ and is probably stuff that I should have done anyway (well, not the bed. I never did understand the purpose of re-making a bed you were only going to sleep in again). I did consider vacuuming, but then I remembered that I was wearing only a dressing gown, and had literally put a clean house before not-being-naked. Priorities.

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“I am the devourer of the poops!!”

 

TB

Day Thirty-Six: Practical uses for mind-reading

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Photo source: armzrace.com

 

Sometimes I feel like things would be easier if people could just read my mind.

Not in like a “oh my god, that guy has a huge head–oh, shit, he’s looking; break eye contact” kind of way, but just so I could impart useful information directly from brain into theirs without the strain of having to articulate it. I’d be super selective about what I do and do not want to be transferred across. It’d be like a mass file transfer of anything marked “work” or “recipes” or “irritating chain emails circa 1999”. Heck, we could even make a brain ‘cloud’, where you can just access thoughts and knowledge as you need it, rather than sending your brain into a crawl for the eight hours that it takes to transfer the millions of thoughts across.

I bring this up because I’m currently training someone to do my job once I strike out in the world of Actually Doing What You Studied That Degree For. I don’t think I’m necessarily a bad trainer. I’ve improved since my days in fast food, where having a trainee trailing you and handling your orders made your food service decidedly slow. Back then, I gave my managers black looks when they saddled me with a newbie. It’s not that I don’t like newbies–everyone has to start somewhere–but they have to be told stuff more than once, which, for impatient me, is already once too many.

I’m not sure how many times today I just stopped mid-sentence because I realised I’d forgotten some important aspect, or ended a long spiel with “but we’ll go into that properly later”. Even the most intelligent person would have brain fatigue after the cognitive load that I just dumped on this poor girl today. (Luckily for her, she’s very switched on.) I’m not sure how much is too much for a first day, but I’m fairly certain I covered about a week’s worth of stuff today.

“I’m sorry,” she said mid-way through doing something that I’d showed her once. “How do I do this bit again?”

I felt like I was some kind of dictator (or overzealous parent), expecting her to understand everything after one explanation and mimic my tasks perfectly.

I’m sorry,” I said more than a few times. “I’ve never had to train someone to do my job before.”

It turns out that it’s a surprisingly hard thing to do. There’s no manual. I’ve never really written much down in the way of instructions. The secretary before me was kind enough to write me a cheat sheet with the basic tasks outlined on it, but a lot of that is outdated now. I found myself filling half an A4 page just with Stuff to Do at the Start of the Day.

Every so often, I’d stop and say, “I think that’s pretty much it,” only to be reminded several minutes later when a task was required that that most certainly was not ‘it’. How do you impart four years of tacit knowledge on to someone in a matter of days?

The answer is that you don’t. You leave them with as much knowledge and forewarning as you can, and then they just get to have a wild learning curve. It’s super fun. I did it four years ago, and it was probably the best way to learn.

Still, the brain-to-brain thing would be pretty amazing, right? Here are some other scenarios where it would be mega helpful.

 

Image“So, anyway, and then I was like–TURN RIGHT!”
We’re flung against our seatbelts during the sharpest turn I’ve ever experienced. The driver glares at me.
“What the hell, man!” my friend and glorified-cabbie yells.
“Oh, sorry,” I mutter, sheepishly. “I forgot that you don’t know where I live.”

This happens to me far too often. If only I could transfer a handy route map from my brain to theirs, I wouldn’t have belt burn on my throat right now.

 

ImageThat moment of strangled indecision could be avoided simply if a man could tap into the Responses to Women’s Impossible Queries section of his wife/girlfriend/female acquaintance’s brain. ‘What do you want to hear?’ would be an appropriate search term, with a more specific ‘How can I avoid being slapped?’ added as a secondary phrase.

 

Image“Oh yes! Yes! That’s it! Ye–did you just stick your pointed claw up my cloaca?”
And man, oh man, wouldn’t everything just be so much simpler if potential sexual partners could browse your preferred moves and Absolute Deal Breakers before engaging in playtime? First kisses would never be awkward again. Those weird sexual skeletons would be out in the open from the word ‘go’. Dudes who normally wouldn’t get a look-in would be able to upload their entire sexual history–including photographic memory references–and impress the socks (and panties) off a total babe. Mostly, it would just eliminate the need for any kind of awkward bedroom banter, including but not limited to, “Is that OK?”, “You like that, baby?”, and of course “That is strictly an exit only!”

 

But then, maybe it’s better than people can’t read my mind. Just now, I was thinking about chocolate and cloacas in the same ten-second stream. You don’t even want to know what kind of mental pictures that throws up.

If you do: start inventing!

 

TB

 

 

Day Twenty-Six: So damn sleepy (why coffee won’t help)

 

This is me today:

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It’s pretty accurate, given that I’ve pulled a 16 hour day. Although, I’d replace bread with muesli or a salad or something. I don’t dig on bread. I admit that it is probably a more comfortable pillow than the other food items I mentioned, but it makes my belly cry (and by cry, I mean handball straight to my bowels to deal with–and boy do those guys cry).

Now that I don’t eat sugar or drink much coffee or tea (not that I ever really drank much coffee), I don’t get caught in the trap of, “oh, I’m having a super late night, so I’m definitely going to need four litres of coffee and enough sugar to kill six diabetics to keep me going.” That stuff never worked anyway. Sure, you’d get a buzz for an hour if you were lucky, but then you’d crash and burn (literally, if you happened to be on a road trip or something). The other problem with that is it stops you from going to sleep when you do finally manage to get home and crawl, semi-clothed, into bed. Coffee: does nothing for your alertness until you want to sleep.

I have the same day tomorrow, and I’m beginning to think that Hell might be a perpetual cycle of driving around to random peoples’ houses to make deliveries until well after midnight–of course, in this case, the end of the shift never comes, and the sweet sun never rises, and everyone is pissed off at you for arriving so late.

 

Anyway, I’ve just had a great idea for a woven kale pillow. I’ll keep you updated. Zzzzzzz

 

 

TB

Day Twenty-Five: Choose life, not chores

Since today is Sunday and is meant to be a day of rest and all that, I shall present a short and picture-heavy depiction of today (the one day off I’ve had this week).

 

This is what adult me should have done today:

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I do often give myself a list of 15 tasks and attempt to do them all at once (and my feet are pretty dexterous), but essentially what this picture is saying is that I probably should have used today to give the house a vacuum, wipe down the sinks, scrub the toilets, and maybe chuck on a load of washing.

 

Here’s what I did instead:

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I don’t sleep in that much anymore. There’s always some reason that I must be up at a specific time (even if it’s to go and do something fun and relaxing). Today was different. I didn’t even bother with an alarm. I just snoozed until my hunger became so overpowering that I had to get up. Sleeping in all the time makes you pretty sluggish, so just enjoying it when you can makes it all the more special–especially when you and your partner manage to score the day off.

(Also, I realise after a closer look at this picture that it uses ‘advise’ where it should use ‘advice’. Because it’s my day off, I’m going to let it slide. Also, I really don’t want to spend time finding another picture.)

 

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I’m not much of a gamer–questionable hand-eye-coordination, performance stress, easily frustrated by constant failure–but today, instead of jumping straight on the laptop to do whatever it is that I think I have to do to be productive, I powered up a different device. My boyfriend just got us a game called The Cave. It’s an adventure game because, bless him, he knows that I am just no good at running, jumping, shooting, fighting games. I spent a good hour or so testing my brain with story puzzles and reacquainting myself with the basic controls of a Playstation. Could I have been doing something more useful for my future/the world at large? Probably. Was I happy and relaxed? Oh, yes. Taking one for Sunday!

 

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The juice is supposed to be an ‘every day’ thing, aimed at pumping me full of the nutrition of a full salad in one small glass, but it ends up being a day-off luxury instead. This means that every day off simply must contain a healthy green concoction. Today was a combination of lots of leafy veg and a little bit of fruit, which came out in a colour that would make Kermit the Frog jealous. I wonder what my insides look like after guzzling this goodness. I hope they’re smiling (or performing the internal organ equivalent of a smile).

 

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After a nice shower (not pictured, sorry fellas), the boyfriend and I set off on a bus to the city. We took a magical trek through the streets of Brisbane, avoided getting rained on by about five minutes, and spent the afternoon and evening with his workmates, farewelling two of his colleagues. It probably wasn’t as good as Homer’s night–we did dance around a maypole but I remember the events on either side–but for those few hours I completely forgot about whatever it was that I thought I had to do today, and just enjoyed the company and the view (overlooking the river, with multi-coloured lights on the bridge when night fell).

 

Attending to your adult responsibilities like cleaning is important, and I’m not suggesting that every minute not spent at work should be spent sleeping, lazing, juicing, or socialising, but every now and then it’s OK to just do whatever the hell you feel like. After all, what’s the point of working most of the week, only to spend every other moment working at home? Days off aren’t just for catching up on everything you ‘really must’ do, they’re for recharging your soul and doing things that make you happy.

 

I’m off to wash the juicer now–but only because I feel that it will truly fulfill me.

 

TB

Day Twenty-Four: The laziness sets in

I’ve decided that writing a long-winded, deep and meaningful post every single day is quite difficult sometimes. Given that I’m facing the week from hell next week (16 hour days, 2.30am starts, oh the joy!), I’ve decided that weekends and ‘super stupid busy days’ shall be henceforth given over to brief comments/jokes, pictures of funny stuff I’ve found, or crudely-drawn images by yours truly.

Lucky you, you get the third one today.

This masterpiece depicts how I felt at work today.

 

Me at work - hot

That’s me at work surrounded by flames, if you can’t tell. It’s not, in fact, me exiting a rather angry vagina. And those lines are steam, not stink. (Although, given the heat, I may well have been giving off a nice reek.)

Working outdoors in summer should stay the domain of chain-gangs.

Pretty good for a laptop-track-pad-in-Paint job, right? And yes, I am that pretty in real life.

This is what you have to look forward to. Brace yourself.

 

TB

Day Fifteen: I am a slave to the internet

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In the age of information technology, we’ve come to just accept that the internet and computers will always be available, ready to go, and fast. When either of these things fails to perform, you quickly realise how impossible your job would be without them.

Some mornings I get to work, and it can take me up to half an hour to get the internet working. Don’t ask me to explain the technical aspect of it. All I know is that the most important light is missing, so I run diagnostics (in IE—so tech) and restart the freaking thing until it gives me the connection. Apart from being a colossal waste of time, this process makes me furious. I don’t particularly enjoy starting the day in a foul mood. It’s like the old ‘got up on the wrong side of the bed’ thing, except I got up on the wrong side of our mechanical overlords and must suffer the punishment on an almost daily basis. All of a sudden (and for no discernable reason) the all-important light blinks to life and we have sweet web access—until, some time later, when it drops out again. It’s like a really flaky boyfriend: lulls you into a false sense of security, then drops you on your ass when you need him most.

A huge part of my job involves emailing. Another huge part of it involves updating an online calendar. Without these two functions, I’m really just a face at a desk, typing various pieces of correspondence and shuffling files to look busy. (My job is totally more involved than that, I swear, but I feel desperately ineffectual without my weapons of mass organisation.) I’m currently considering sending a message via carrier pigeon and a message via email and seeing which one arrives at its destination first. My money’s on the winged rat.

Today’s blog is brought to you by Microsoft Word and uploaded using the internet at home, which, unlike the internet at work, is somewhat reliable. (Note that I’m writing this in the past, and am likely to have jinxed myself. Although, if you’re reading this, something must have gone right.)

“Why are you writing your blog at work, you lazy bitch?” I hear you ask.

Fair enough. If I had the internet, perhaps I’d do my work instead of spewing vitriol about how I can’t do my work. It scares me that I’m almost useless without the internet. It also gives me dangerously high blood pressure.

In the time I’ve spent waiting for pages to load, I’ve been able to compile a handy and highly-mathematical set of facts about my day.

Here it is by the numbers:

Times I have gone to ‘just Google’ something: 121278931

Times I have sworn at the computer: 214789373

Exasperated sighs: 23479279

Productivity: 2 (out of 10)

Blood pressure: 180/110

Times I have seen the ‘problem loading page’ message: 39832595

Times my hope has been built up by a loading icon only to be dashed like a baby’s brains against a stone wall (sorry, too much Game of Thrones): 1284538

I have a suggestion for any of you would-be torturers out there: grab  your victim and sit them in a room with a ancient computer and broken modem; tell them that they are free to leave once they answer some ridiculously obscure question of your choice; watch and laugh maniacally as they try to load Google. You’ll have whatever you want before the day is out.

TB

Day Eight: Finding the bright spots

Image(Photo: John McCullough, Flickr)

This ‘grown-up’ life can get pretty overwhelming if you’re not getting little bits of light in your day. I’m talking about those things that you love to do that break up the monotony, or the people whose smiling faces and kind words just seem to lift you out of your funk. My boyfriend is one of them. My parents’ puppy–it’s hard to break the habit of saying MY puppy–is another.

Some days I leave work with my head still buzzing. Make appointments with Mr X tomorrow… Forgot to call Miss Y re referral… Report on Mr J due Friday… Ms M wants urgent appointment… It’s the kind of thing that taints the whole ‘end of the day’ feeling of relief with a feeling of ‘crap, I have a lot of work to do when I come back’. Sometimes working part-time (as the only employee) is a curse. The work piles into those few days instead of being an even spread.

No matter how frustrated/exhausted/down I’m feeling when I finish work, though, I’m always smiling by the time I get in my car and drive away. The reason for this is the Carpark Man.

It’s only as I write this that I realise I’ve never asked the Carpark Man his name. He used to greet me in the morning with a smile and a “hello” and when the carpark was full (which is usually is) he’d ask whether he could park my car. Every day I’d leave my keys with this man and go off to work. Now a young man, who I suspect may be his grandson, takes the morning shift and the Carpark Man is there in the evening.

The Carpark Man is older (of grandfatherly age) and Korean. His English is limited, but he has a few phrases down.

“Long time, no see!” he says when I’ve had some time away.

“How are you?” he asks with a smile each time he greets me.

“Can I park-a your car?” he’d ask each time the carpark was full. Even the first time, I felt comfortable handing him my car keys.

“I have valet parking at work,” I told a friend.

“You leave your car with a stranger?” she asked when I’d explained how the situation worked.

“Well, yes, I guess. But he’s not a stranger. I see him every day.”

Last Christmas he gave all his ‘regulars’ a candy cane with a cute (and majorly touristy) koala wearing an Australia vest attached. When he reappeared after some time away last year, he told me he’d been on holiday to Korea and gave me one of those chains we used to attach to our mobile phones–of a smiling character in traditional dress.

One day, not long after I started parking there, I pulled up to the little booth to pay my daily fee and the Carpark Man was there with his wife. He didn’t immediately take my money, but asked, “you believe in me?”

I was puzzled for a few moments. He repeated the question, like he wasn’t sure he’d got the right words. Suddenly, I knew what he meant.

“I trust you?” I suggested, and his face lit up.

“Yes!” he said. “Thank you. You park free for today.”

I’d never even thought about it that way. I’d trusted him inherently. I was just happy to have such a friendly service that took the pressure off me to find parking each day.

I found out later that there are a whole group of us who leave our keys. I walked down there today, my head full of psychology papers on the ability of children to tell the truth (fascinating, but very academic reading), and the Carpark Man wasn’t there. I looked around, then waited. He usually appeared from somewhere eventually. A lady carrying a briefcase came in shortly after. I smiled at her.

“Not sure where he is,” I said.

She nodded knowingly and called into the gloom, “hello?”

A second passed before: “Hello! I’m coming!” It came from the other end of the underground lot.

The lady grinned at me. “And now he’ll run.”

Sure enough, he soon came jogging into view, smiling his usual smile and asking each of us how we were.

I paid my fee, grabbed my keys, and thanked him sincerely. I wondered then if he’d ever seen me without a smile.

Find something you can’t help but smile at, and make it a regular part of your week. Take up reading again (nothing soothes me like a good book), surround yourself with friends who make you laugh, smile at people who make your life a little easier: cashiers, waiters, carpark attendants. Even if you start out forcing it, it’s been proven that just the act of smiling will make you feel happier, and a good old smile exchange will give you a genuine grin soon enough.

The Carpark Man told me that he’s playing golf this weekend. He’s got this happiness thing all figured out.

TB

Day Six: Why stress-performing is killing me

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As I type I’m sitting on the couch watching TV, checking my phone intermittently to respond to Facebook posts, and baking bread. I’m still considering yoga, painting my toenails, and maybe cleaning the bathroom mirror. You know what? I still feel like a lazy slob. I know that someone, somewhere is probably making my annual wage in a day, raising a menagerie of children, and saving lives through multiple charities in their spare time.

Most of the time I do feel like good old Inspector Gadget, albeit minus the trench coat (too much of a stripper vibe).

When I was in year 12, my mum told me that I was allowed one breakdown per term (so, four per year). If you’ve completed your final year of high school, you’ll understand that this was not a generous limit. In term two alone, I had three separate ‘crying on the floor’ incidents related to the non-appearance of my formal dress. When I finished that year, sick and exhausted, I was ready to sleep for a year.

Unfortunately for me, I’m a stress performer.

A day off sounds amazing, right?

Not so much when this is how it goes:

  • Sleep in until 9am. Feel like shit because you’ve already wasted like three good daylight hours.
  • Check phone secretly hoping something urgent has come up and you will have some deadline to work towards.
  • Drag self to kitchen and consider making a gourmet breakfast. Decide against it because it’ll take minutes that could be spent job-searching/cleaning/solving the world’s problems. Eat bowl of muesli while reading phone and/or junk mail. Stop eating when you realise that the bowl is empty.
  • Mentally schedule rest of day. Feel depressed when schedule reads shower, clothes, read stuff on internet.
  • Wander around house looking at things. Consider doing a mass clean-out for the second time in a month.
  • Scroll through list of phone contacts. Text one or two people casually asking what they’re up to. Try not to sound desperate.
  • End up baking something. Fail miserably. Feel worse.
  • Nap.

The fact is, friends, that I get my kicks from being stressed out of my freaking brain. Some days, I deliberately agree to ridiculously tight schedules, assuring myself I can handle it. I spend said day cursing myself and ‘looking forward to’ the weekend. Tomorrow, I’m rushing to an optometrist appointment, backing it up with a full day at work, followed by a mad drive straight to family dinner night. On Friday, I’m working 10-1, straight to a hair appointment at 1.30, and off to choir practice and concert at 4.45. Even that may not satisfy my stress-lust. There’s every chance I’ll decide to drive to the coast and back on Friday night just for shits and giggles.

I do this to myself. I even write blog posts at 11.30pm, just so I can feel the anxiety build as midnight approaches. Right now I’m thinking about making muesli and whether I’ll still get enough sleep before work tomorrow if I start reading Games of Thrones (yeah, I finally caught up to that bandwagon).

When I saw a natural health specialist at the beginning of this year, he listened to me describing my life for a few minutes, then nodded wisely. “You have what we call adrenal fatigue,” he said. “It means your body’s normal stress response is impaired due to overuse. Now, instead of releasing the adrenaline that you need to get through a stressful time, your body just spirals into overdrive.”

Adrenal fatigue affects everything: sleep, weight, general health. And do you know what the cure is? Eliminate stress.

If I remember correctly, I laughed. “I’m a uni student in her final year, working two jobs, and playing in a band,” I told him. “Stress is kind of inevitable.”

Inevitable, but not healthy. And not a good way to motivate yourself. Deadlines are there to ensure you do the work on time; they’re not a challenge to see how close you can come to complete catastrophy before you pull it off. Stress is my drug: I need more and more to get that sweet feeling of relief that follows an achievement. It’s getting to the point where the relief lasts all of five minutes before I’m searching for the next high. I don’t know all that much about the human body, but judging by the way my neck seizes up, my teeth clench, and my temples start to throb, this is probably not a good way to live.

It’s a habit that I’d like to break, though I’m not sure it’ll be easy. I’ll start with a deep breath. I’ll cut myself some slack. I’ll spend five minutes tomorrow staring into space and thinking about a holiday (jam-packed with activities–god please help me). I’ll read something that has absolutely no bearing on my job-searching, loan-sniffing, or blog-writing. There’s enough unavoidable stresses in life without intentially adding any on, right?

(I’m still going to go and make muesli now. But I’m going to take my sweet time. Namaste.)

TB