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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Are you ready?

I think things have finally reached a stage where I can attempt posting here again.
My plan last time I checked in – the one involving quitting work to become a SAHM – didn’t work out quite so well. Like, not at all.

It took a bit longer to finalize things with the transfer of our old house (June 2013), which meant that we didn’t move in with my mother and grandmother as scheduled, which meant that I had to go on working in tech support (when  I wasn’t on sick leave) to make sure we had enough to cover childcare expenses. But, I found out by eavesdropping in the break room (hey, at least I admit it – and, really, can it be called “eavesdropping” if I was at  the complete opposite of the canteen and the geniuses held their conversation at a level to be heard over the TV and shenanigans from the call floor?). So, it was stated that people in supervisory/management positions were deliberately looking up Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, blogs - anything written by employees - to see if they were complaining about work.

Now, I’m relatively behind seeing that people are releasing damaging information and quietly addressing it. Like, if Chef had checked MySpace to see if people were talking about being stoned while on the job, I could kinda see that because, let’s face it, more than one person would have done just that. But, the blind testing described in the canteen? It extended to people just bitching about having to listen to callers cuss them out without recourse. Now, yes, in the past we were granted a little room by some supervisors to disconnect a call after four or five personally-directed F-bombs from a customer. Likewise, if a customer threatened to harm us personally, we could inform them that we were disconnecting the call for security reasons and please call back.

Then the powers that be decided agents could no longer deliberately disconnect a call for any reason, except to call the customer back immediately following a dropped call or to troubleshoot their phone system. This followed the introduction of the “resolve everything on the first call” initiative, largely directed by a meeting where-in a lovely bar chart indicated that too many resources were spent addressing issues it was felt could have been handled in one session. Now, when questioned what percentage of those calls was due to irate customers calling back because they had been disconnected for safety/security reasons or because the customer had called back on their own because, for example, the agent had told them their issue was not eligible to have expedited case resolution, it was relayed that the analysts had determined those calls did not warrant a large enough portion of repeat entry calls to require an exception. Ideally, we were supposed to immediately connect those customers with someone above our pay grade. If we're going to be honest here, we weren't supposed to let customers hold our line hostage, but if there wasn't a superior available (and believe me, I had a running record of screenshots where there wasn't a single person available) you basically just had to sit and listen to abuse until the caller either gave up, or someone finally became available.

I’ll throw my own experience out. In the years I worked for the company, I’d disconnected a call for profanity less than five times, and I think only twice for a personal threat. However, I had witnessed people trying to accost employees leaving the building, or even trying to force their way in, multiple times. The fact that the company had decided protecting its employees’ safety and rights to human decency (as some people perceived it) massively pissed people off. When most of us signed on, there was no clause about having to sit and listen to Joe-with-the-Entitlement-Issues dehumanize us. It was attempted to argue the change in requirements fell under agreeing to work in a changing and flexible environment, but you can only dress up being a dick so far. Then the company wants to hold people responsible for bitching about their jobs. That’s almost as nuts as expecting a woman who is deeply in love with someone, marries them, then one days finds her spouse is beating the shit out of her and calling her a whore, to keep her mouth shut and not tell her friends and family. Almost.

I usually make it a rule not to mention fellow employee or company names directly, anyway, but I didn’t trust my supervisors (well, one supervisor in particular) not to go off and running through my profiles.

So, I let my pages fester. I could pull off laziness being the cause of their demise easier.

While muddling through, I began to experience massive pain in my shoulders when I was touched (later diagnosed over a year later as fibromyalgia), but searing pain in my right leg was ever present. Like, “there is real danger of losing bladder control” kind of pain. I was initially supposed to be out for just a few weeks while I was on PT for IT band syndrome, but it turns out the painkillers (that didn't help, anyway because it wasn't an IT band issue) triggered a depressive episode, and I ended up out for about seven months. Great from the standpoint of avoiding office drama, but lousy when your short term disability is denied and work threatens to cut you loose. So back I went, not really 100%, but knowing I needed one last push at some money for my son’s first year in Pre-K. I was back for about a week when a couple higher ups asked, rather bluntly, why I hadn’t promoted in all the years I’d been there. Well, gee, do you guys remember the hiring freeze that’s been in place since the recession started? If there are no openings, where would you like me to go? Aside from Hell, I already work there.

But it turned out that the ban on new positions had been lifted, even if the selection was mostly limited to supervisor positions in a department I loathed. As one of the supervisors I “gelled” with pointed out, any interview would be good practice, and no one said I had to accept if offered the new position. Off to interviews I went, trying to learn the easy, smooth confidence of Patrick Maitland.

Just a couple of weeks later, my grandmother passed away. It was exactly one week, to the day, that I took her for a physical and bought her a wheelchair. It was also about three/four weeks after I went back to work, which pissed off some people who felt I shouldn’t need more than the three days of bereavement time that was standard to get my family's shit together. Well, let’s face it. My bipolar swings had reached the point where I would be out of work for three months or more while I waited for the depressive or hypomanic swing to pass. My mood stabilizer had never prevented them in the first place, but I did notice they lasted longer after my second son was born. What happened next was inevitable, really.
After working thirteen-hour days multiple times a week for OT, hypomania from really set it. I went back out, after less than three months actively working, I think. HR asked when I expected to be back, and I gave them a timeframe I said I thought should be in the ballpark. Well, it turned out I was wrong. My doctor said I would be out for probably twice as long, if not more. And I don’t blame the company, per se, for cutting me loose when you look at how often I had been out. I did, however, find it illogical to cite, as one of the reasons for separation, that the timeframe my doctor quoted was much longer than what I had quoted. I get that I’ve been bipolar for quite some time, but I’m still not the medical professional who actually knows the expected time needed for the prescribed medications to begin leveling things out. Partly because it’s a bit like spinning a prize wheel to see what treatments we’ll try this time, and partly because, and I think I mentioned this, I’m not a medical professional. Seriously, who believes that going to the patient and getting a guesstimate on recovery time is wise? Anyone?
So, that chapter of my life ended. In the interim my family has had some japes, scrapes, and misadventures that I now feel far enough off the company’s radar to share again.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Temper, Temper

I took my mother and son out on a shopping jaunt yesterday. Nothing dramatic, just a quick trip through the grocery store for some staple items. However, we made the mistake of taking my son out directly after his nap.

About five minutes into the store, my son started to fuss, and the fussing progressed into a full-blown, teary tantrum. Ordinarily, I would have my husband take my son to calm down while I finished, but with my mother in tow, and just a few things on my list, I pushed on despite the theatrics. My son wanted to run around the store, and, as any parent knows who has been in a busy store, particularly one on re-stock day, it wasn't about to happen.

As I've mentioned before, my mom and I differ in parenting styles. My mother is much more indulgent. Case in point: I told her to watch my son for a second while I grabbed a piece of ham from the meat section, and I turn around to see her taking my son over to a rack of toys. I motored my way over as fast as I could before she could even touch one of those toys.

"If you give him the toy now, he'll think that throwing a tantrum will get him rewarded in some way," I calmly stated, turning the cart, and my wailing child, back toward the household items. I wanted to shout, "Oh my God, you flipping saboteur! Have you lost what little mind you have left in the graying meat-case you call a head?", but I didn't. Probably a good thing. Probably.

"I told him that he could have it," she replied. I walked on, but re-stated that we needed to send my son the message that throwing a tantrum doesn't yield whatever he wants. After he settled down, we gave him his afternoon snack, and that seemed to restore his sense of balance.

We were on our way out of the store when there was a piercing shriek from outside. A woman, somewhere between my age and my mother's, was struggling with a girl who was probably about six or seven. It turned out that the girl wanted to ride in a cab on the way home, and her mother said "no". The girl was shrieking as loud as she could, not because she was in any danger, but because she wanted to attract attention. Every time she let loose, she would glance around to see who was staring. It was a power play with even odds on who would win.

I felt for the woman. I think most people did, really. She kept saying she didn't have the money for the cab (something I can well understand given the rising cost of food), and her daughter kept screaming louder with every refusal. She was still screaming by the time we had finished loading the car and were getting in to leave.

I looked over the car to my mother and, pointing to the shenanigans, said, "And that's what happens when a child gets their way from a screaming match."

Monday, August 6, 2012

Loss of Independent Sleeping

Our family is preparing for a big change. In approximately four weeks, I will be leaving the work force. At the same time, we will be moving from our current home into my family's home in horse country. 

My mother is beginning to struggle to care for my grandmother. If they're both honest, they have always gotten on each others' nerves, but with my grandmother's failing hearing, my mother is more on edge than before.

In addition to trying to combine two households into one, we're also preparing my son for the move. Right now, we all have our own bedrooms. When we first move in, we will share a bedroom until I can re-convert my old bedroom from a library. There appears to be little peer reviewed literature on the subject of sharing a room, but not a bed. Co-sleeping is one of those issues with strong support for every side of the decision whether or not to share a bed with your baby or young child. Personally, I don't want to open that can of worms. There has been much said already, and it isn't the issue at hand.

As an infant, I slept either in the cradle in my parents' room (it was a big-butt cradle) or in the crib in the nursery. After my father left and I had outgrown my crib, I had to share a bed with my mother for a while until the bedrooms in the attic could be updated. It never struck me as odd that I didn't have my own room, even when I went to friends' homes and played in their (typically) well-appointed bedrooms.

I don't worry so much about the effect sharing a room will have on my son's sense of independence as I do about the effect my snoring will have on his quality of sleep. That's right - I have smaller than normal nasal passages, so I'm a noisy sleeper. In fact, with my current sinus infection, my husband describes me as sounding like a diesel truck. (Have I mentioned how much I love him?) 

Beyond that, I worry about what effect sharing a room will have on the dynamic between myself and my husband. We do most of our talking in bed before going to sleep. We unwind in bed with our laptops, even though we know experts (ahh, those darn experts) say that the bedroom should be used for sleep only. Well, sleep and a limited number of extracurricular activities. If my son continues to go to bed at 7:30, though, I think the list of activities in the bedroom will be quite limited.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

An Uncanny Knack

<p>That's right, my family has an uncanny knack - for getting me sick. I have been out from work for some time now due to issues from bipolar. Finally, I have been feeling better, and I am starting back to work next week. (I think. They have yet to give me a firm date.) What an awesome time for my husband to bring home a sinus infection from school.Ordinarily, I don't really mind getting sick. I' m one of those people who gets past the worst of a cold in a few hours. Sinus infections, on the other hand, always mean fluid filled ears for me. Which muffles my hearing just enough to make it difficult to hear calls on a headset in a boisterous call center.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Riding Rant

Watching the cross country portion of the eventing trials at the Olympics yesterday, I was taken back to when I used to compete in my childhood through early twenties.

The Hunter-Jumper division in which I competed was very politically biased. Your trainer affiliation mattered as much as your performance, or your appearance. I never had any patience for knowing which judge liked what with their coffee. I always just wanted to go into the ring, complete my class, and go put my feet up until the next the next class. Most of all, I wanted someone else to ride my horse in the under saddle portions.

I damaged my knees at an early age between all the time I spent on horseback and playing volleyball. Ironically, the over-fences classes never caused me pain, despite the pressure it places on the knees. And in lessons the under saddle workout didn't bother, either. But for some reason, when I would wear my field boots in competition, the pain during the rising trot was excruciating. I tried Advil, Aleve, all kinds of OTC medication to try the dull the pain, but nothing even made a dent. I tried multiple times going to doctors for treatment, but they mostly wanted to discuss my weight in the saddle. I had built huge muscles from riding. Most of the riders you see are very slender, with beautifully lean muscle build. I build muscles like I'm on steroids, only without the use of any enhancing drugs. As it was explained to me, the combination of the bulk from the muscle in my thighs with a large Q angle was putting too much pressure on my knees. The suggestion each time was "lose weight", but they never offered any pain management.

By the time I was a Senior in high school, I was exhausted. I had been on diet drugs for almost three years solid. Every time I took adipex and pondimin, I would lose bulk from my middle, but I could never lose anything from my bust or, of course, from my main muscle groups in my arms, back, and legs. The result was a frame that looked attractive enough on the ground, but in the saddle I never looked as though I had lost any weight. I can remember my instructor telling me how fat I was at 135lbs, a size 6 around the waist. Even then I was still a D-cup and my thighs were bulky as ever, so I guess from her perspective I must have looked like I wasn't trying to get slimmer.

I was also tired of the politics of the local show scene. I hated that certain judges would automatically discount riders based on the color of their horse, or whether they were wearing a navy pinstripe jacket versus a solid navy jacket. I never really had an issue because my mounts were mainly chestnuts or bays, but I did ride a gorgeous paint at one point. There were two judges who would never pin her above fourth place, even when my ride was technically clearer than the horses that placed ahead. Ah, well, gotta love subjective scores.

Which brings me back to the Olympic eventing. There were snide remarks yesterday regarding Niklas Lindback's tie and how it came out of his jacket during his jumping round. He had a decent round except for two downed rails, which begs the question, "Who cares?" It wasn't as though his pants split in an embarrassing way or his attire was unclean after warm-ups, and it definitely didn't happen during the dressage phase. If the biggest complaint you have with a rider's jumping round is a minor, minor, appearance fault, which has nothing to do with the rider's score, while there are rails falling, then perhaps you shouldn't be commentating for that sport. Equestrianism isn't a national pastime , and when a good rider is brought low for something unrelated to their performance, let alone their worth as a human being, it only makes it harder for people to understand and appreciate the skill involved. If you want to make negative remarks, there were several riders who not only "took an extra step" as you put it, but completely buried their horses at the fence. One can certainly find more to say over those gross errors than "he should have used a tie tack". And, bless his soul, Lindback quietly tucked in his tie at the end of his round, no embarrassment (for really, there was none owed), and completed his ride.Lindback's was a nice round to enjoy for highs and lows, as he and Mister Pooh work well as a team. The same could be said for Jonathan Paget, whose tie also came out, even though he did drop arail. In the end, style should matter less than substance in jumping, where you have enough to worry about between downed rails and time faults, and the commentators should recognize that.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Turn off that TV

I know, I know - not another post about watching less TV. Well, yes and no.

Yes - I am an advocate of limited TV time. My grandmother watched me as a child, and her method of babysitting involved popcorn and whatever children's programming happened to be on at the time. Children's programming for her ran the gamut from Mr. Roger's Neighborhood to Santa Barbara (an old soap opera, for those who missed it). Somewhere in the mix I developed a love of educational programming, not just shows like Sesame Street, but Nova and National Geographic, as well. Thanks to those programs, I earned many an "A" on my science exams. Ok, so having an aerospace engineer for a grandfather didn't hurt, either.

On the other hand, I spent so much time solo that I'm a little awkward around people,still. But, as I'm finding out, even educational programming can be of little use to a child with expressive language delay. The AAP recommends unstructured play and family interaction for those with speech or language delay. I support this wholeheartedly. My mother is another story. She doesn't want to plop my son in front of the TV the way her mother did, but she does believe it's O.K. for him to have the TV constantly on as "background noise". Since the official assessment two weeks ago, I've had more leverage to try cutting out TV completely in the afternoons after my son wakes up from his nap. Mornings are a little more tricky, because I wake up late most days, which means that my mom is on her own. Well, let's not forget Sportacus and Super Why are there every morning, as well.

I'm curious how other multigenerational families handle similar disputes. Ultimately, I am Mom, so hear me roar in our home. The problem with that approach is the sore throat that inevitably arises. There are very few multigenerational families in our community, and those with whom I've spoken automatically defer to the eldest member, regardless of whether their input is "correct". I know I shouldn't say there is a "correct" and "incorrect" when it comes to this issue, but I think leaving a child in front of the TV, all day, with no parent stimulation (and you'll note I'm stressing NO parent involvement), is on the incorrect side of things.My mother's approach, while in the gray area, does something I feel is incorrect - it countermands my in front of my child. I don't like the mixed messages that are sent to a child who is already struggling with viewing me as an authority figure.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Can You Hear Me?

My son had his first audiology exam today. It was a behavioral audiometry, with my son sitting on my lap for the test. I wish I could say we passed gloriously or failed miserably, but we fell somewhere on the middle. The best that could be said, he does hear better with one ear, but we have no idea with which ear.

I think it would have gone better if he hadn't been clinging to me with his head buried against my chest. Also, he appears to be having trouble with fluid in his left ear again. We received a referral for the head of ENT since this is a recurring problem. We also received referrals for speech pathology and another audio exam. Right now, we have to wait until the ENT appointment at the end of the month. That has me on tenterhooks. I'm not the best at waiting for good vs. bad news.