Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What's been going on

We’re having some downtime at work, so I’m taking advantage of it to do an update. I know it’s been a long time.

Well, as usual, things have been crazy. The last time I wrote was May 23rd, and there was a ton of stuff going on that I didn't even cover. First of all, there was a series of rough patches.

The first one happened in April, where I got behind on my medication, and I was just hoping to ride it out until some money came in, because I have skipped a few days here and there before and managed. I think the problem was that I ran out of multiple, instead of just one, or that it was a longer stretch. Anyway, one Sunday I started getting sick, and it came on much faster than it usually does, and I found myself in the ER getting pumped full of IV antibiotics. While I was on the second bag, my mother came in and told me that our cousin's wife, Shirley, had died. It was just kind of a low point.

Expensive medical treatment aside and sadness and concern for her family aside, life went on. I worked Monday, got back on my medicine, received several death threats in case I ever tried that again, and did manage it so that I could make it to the graveside service on Friday, and later that night Maria came home and had cracked a tooth. Always on the weekend. She did have an uncomfortable weekend, and we were expecting a really expensive bill, but it turned out that she just needed a filling replaced, making things somewhat better. That got fixed Tuesday.

Once again, life goes on, and the next Friday Julie came home sick. Well, it was a downer, but at least our issues were getting milder, with quicker recovery times. (I still had a week of antibiotics left.)

So life goes on, Julie was well enough to travel for her trip with Maria to visit a friend in New Mexico, and while they were gone I found out that my job was coming to an end. Granted, it was a temp position, and so that was something that was going to happen all along, but suddenly it was a reality, just when we were having weekly crises. I thought I might actually be done the following week, but I got a slight reprieve. That’s when things really got interesting.

My last day at Intel was to be May 21st. About a week before that, I got a call from a writer friend, who had another friend with a book that had gotten some interest from a movie producer. She felt it was important to come up with a screenplay, but neither had any experience with screenwriting. Enter me.

We agreed to meet on the 22nd. I started reading the book, but did not have time to do more than that. My last day at Intel, I concentrated on creating a few more documents to help my successor, and would be running around like a chicken with my head cut off for the last hour or so as I turned in my laptop and badge and tied up all the loose ends. Before that, though, the person I was training recommended me for another job. I said that was fine, and suddenly received a phone call, and had an appointment to go in Monday. So, I had my crazy hour, went straight to Vancouver, talked to Christine and spent the night, headed up to outside Tacoma the following morning and met with Liz, parsed out the scenes, headed back and filled out paperwork for the new job Monday. It was a whirlwind, but that's two great opportunities just dropped in my lap, right? Well, it's never that simple.

The new job was another contractor/temp job, which was fine. It paid quite a bit less, but since it was only for six weeks, I figured that would be okay. Getting to the contracting company was easy—it was right on the MAX line. The actual job site, well, let’s just say it takes an hour and a half and three buses to get there. Going from telecommuting three days a week to that was a little bit of a shock to the system. Never a morning person in the best of times, it was rough going, but I kept telling myself it was just for six weeks. I think I am in my eighth week now.

In addition, I was just not getting anywhere on the adaptation. I had written all of 24 pages, and I kept wanting to write and thinking that I needed to write, and not getting to it. Liz and Christine kept finding more potential buyers, and sure nothing is guaranteed but having those kind of options is still huge, so I felt like I was just blowing it all, and that was a lot of stress too.

Is it lame that a combination of bad hay fever and exhaustion got me sick? I think it was July 1st where my tonsils started feeling swollen, and then it was just worse on the 2nd. That was a miserable day on multiple levels. Everything was starting to wear me down anyway, and then I found out that another job I had been hoping for would not be coming through. Then the bus never came, and this particular bus only comes once an hour, so you need to make sure not to miss it, but I had time to spare but that was not it. Maybe one broke down. While I was at the bus stop, it started to pour and I was out of cough drops and it was feeling like a really bad day.

I had felt like the tonsils were just irritated by all the allergy symptoms, rather than actual illness requiring medical attention, but having just been in the ER makes you a little jumpy, so I went to the doctor on Saturday. The throat was definitely inflamed, with white and red patches, but the strep test came back negative, so all she did was prescribe me some cough medicine. Since that was what I was planning on taking on my own, I did not feel great about the out-of-pocket office call, but I had been having trouble sleeping, and the prescription Robitussin had codeine in it, so I thought at least it will put me out. Didn’t work. I mean, the syrup helped with the coughing, but there was no accompanying drowsiness--just the same old tiredness.

(This led to me cancelling my volunteer shift at the Blues Festival, actually, which was disappointing.)

One thing I had been a little concerned about was that maybe part of the irritation was that I have been taking fake Zyrtec (Walzyr) to keep the symptoms under control, but I have been taking it for a longer period than most years, and I wondered if the partial suppression of the symptoms increased the irritation. I skipped a few days, and Tuesday when I went in I had only cough syrup in my system, and no Walzyr. I was coughing and sneezing all day.

Wednesday I got up, and I showered and was all ready to go, and I just could not do it. I called in sick, went back to bed, and slept for another four hours. I was thinking, well, if I have to have a sick day, I can catch up on sleep and then catch up on writing, but I never wrote. Even after the extra sleep I was so tired. I slept more, and I spent a lot of time lying down but awake. At night I had a mini-breakdown because I had missed a day of work and accomplished nothing. I should have been done being tired, but I wasn't.

After talking with my sisters, I decided to take off the rest of the week, so I called in again, and went to bed without setting my alarm. That gave me basically four days of just sleeping and writing (and church on Sunday). I did slowly start feeling better, where Sunday I was feeling pretty good. There was physical relief from the rest and mental relief from accomplishing some writing, even if I had to force myself to do it. I mean, every writer encounters times like that, regardless of health, and at first I was getting into this weird mental space where I worrying about things like what if I couldn't do it at all, or was going to end up in the ER again, or what if I had chronic-fatigue syndrome? (No, it was just regular fatigue.)

It was a relief to make progress and feel better. It left me with a dilemma, though. This job is bad for me. I can't make myself fall asleep early enough to get enough sleep when waking at 5. The long travel time means that I am losing twelve hours out of the day, even if I am only getting paid for eight. That's normal, but those eight hours were also being paid at the wage I was making back in 1998, which made me want to cry a little. The job was literally getting me sick, but there were no health benefits. And it looked like it could go on for at least another two months. I couldn't put myself through that.

One thing that I had noticed in the previous months is that I just keep plodding along. It doesn’t matter how tired or discouraged or frustrated I am, I keep going. There are good things about that, but it needs to be combined with some judgment. It wasn’t making sense here, No matter how terrifying quitting was.

I ended up delivering an ultimatum, explaining that I either need to make X amount of money or that Friday would be my last day. I sent it before I came into work. Once there I found out that the rumor mill said I had pneumonia. Well, not quite that bad. Anyway, I will either be unemployed again or better-paid in a few days.

I do still have a lot to do on the screenplay, and I better get it done before I start getting sick again. I feel bad not posting though, so I was thinking of posting some short fiction and things I have already written. We'll see.