I could just cry

Today was the first day of the new job. My feet and back are killing me. I keep aggravating the torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder. (It’s been a problem for months, and I’m starting to think it’s never going to heal completely.) I have had about 2 hours of sleep in the last 36 hours, I have about an hour of freelancing work to do before I can go to bed, and I have to get ready for another day of work in about 5 hours. I’m hungry and dried out because we can’t have food or liquid in the work area — in the last 24 hours, I’ve had a really mediocre slice of pizza, an O’Henry bar, two two-bite brownies, and a fraction of the water I usually drink. But I’m too tired to find something to eat.

After $500+ in vet bills last week, I’m force pilling my cat appetite stimulants in order to make him eat more and inspecting the litter box with the intensity of a gold miner, making sure everything is functioning properly. He seems to be doing better, but there are still some issues and he loses his appetite if I don’t keep pilling him.

Today, the power supply on my refurbished Dell computer (have I mentioned before just how much I hate Dell?) finally gave up the ghost and appears to have taken the motherboard out with it. (Please God let it be the motherboard and not the hard drive.)  I’m going to try to find a SATA external drive enclosure so that I can make sure the drive is functioning OK. Tried to scavenge from my old computer but old motherboard is old and doesn’t have any SATA connector. So I now have the innards from two computers spilled out on my desk, and still no functioning desktop. Still, knowing that the motherboard is fried would only be partly helpful. If the drive is OK, I’ll at least be able to retrieve some files that I hadn’t had a chance to back up. But I can’t afford to buy a new motherboard (or new computer) because I don’t get my first pay from this job until late February or early March (it’s a contractor job, where I get paid once a month, a month+ late). Which means that I’m going to have to either spend my off time at an Internet cafe in order to complete some freelance work I need to work on or I’m going to have to struggle to work on this Netbook.

If I wasn’t so tired and dehydrated, I’d cry.


I’m pooped

This working thing is hard.

I mean, I have to actually get dressed. No sitting around barefoot in my jimjams with my cat on my lap all day.

And they expect me to stay awake all day. No napping, power or otherwise. Have you ever heard such a thing? It’s barbaric. (Is 5-Hour Energy addictive? Have there been long term studies? Will my eyeballs grow hair if I exceed the recommended weekly limit?)

And the walking. Oh, the walking. To the bus. From the bus. To the elevator. From the elevator. It’s all very exhausting. So exhausting that I just couldn’t drag my hands up to the keyboard to blog when I came home at the end of the day. It’s all just horribly wrong. (Did you even notice I was gone?)

I need the long weekend to recover and build up energy to attack next week. *shiver*

Vacations aren’t all they’re cracked up to be

OK. So it hasn’t really been a vacation. Six months “off” sounds like a dream, but that’s only if someone is paying you to sit around and drink margaritas, or tour around some exotic foreign island and blog about it*.

So I’m happy to say that my six month “vacation” is about to end. That contract that was supposed to start in February March April officially starts on Monday. It’s going to be a little weird, keeping a normal day shift pattern, but Hey! I’ll get to practice my social skills. With real people. In person.

* I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed that Tourism Queensland picked someone like Ben Southall for their Job of a Lifetime. I’m sure Ben is a nice guy and all that, but he’s an adventure vacationer already. The Great Barrier Reef is already on the “to do” lists of most travellers like him. You probably don’t need to entice them to come visit. What they should have gone for is an ordinary Joe, someone who would show all of us ordinary, non-adventurous people how much fun it is to visit the islands off the coast of Queensland. I’d’ve eagerly read that person’s stories. Unless Ben is a super witty raconteur, I’ll probably give him a miss. Not that anyone cares, but I thought I would put that out there anyway.

Freelancing my heart out (or trying to)

The interviews on Monday went pretty well. I’m one of four people being considered — better odds than you’d normally find for a job opening. It’s part-time and it’s remote, but I’d still like to get it — the company seems like a good company and the three people I’ve talked with are very nice, even in the face of my having inadvertently unplugged the power cord for my cordless (and only) phone, resulting in the first of the Monday interviews starting 15 minutes late. (Don’t ask.)

I also have a lead on a couple of small web design jobs. Not huge moneymakers but good resume/portfolio fodder, and leading to an unexpected industry specialization. My sole proprietorship was originally set up many years ago (before I settled on technical writing as my preferred field) as a (somewhat hypothetical) freelance Web design company, but it has turned into a freelance Web design/technical writing/editing/jill-of-all-trades kind of thing. I never envisioned it being what it’s become.

(I’m a bit loopy right now — it’s 05:30 and I’m hopped up on 5-Hour Energy and listening to “Major Tom” on semi-auto repeat. Just spent three hours organizing my Yahoo mail box folders. I have three folders, containing a total of about 40,000 e-mails, left to tackle. Good thing I have unlimited storage. I know that it seems like a symptom of packratitis, but I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to go back to find an obscure e-mail from several years ago. There’s a method to the madness.)

Hey, the good news fairy stopped by

on Friday and I found out that I start a new contract (at the place I worked at last year) in three weeks. So, time to finish that Joomla site I’m working on (we’ve set the launch day back a few weeks) and finish decluttering before joining the gainfully employed again, at least for a few months.

One thing this Joomla site is teaching me is that I have a shockingly short attention span, and that I’m really easily bored. *This* is why I can never get my own site redesigns finished (I have one that has been in the works for several years now and I’ve long since gotten sick and tired of the “new” design). You’d think someone with as many OCD issues as I have wouldn’t have that much of a problem with attention sp…oh, look, a shiny thing.

I can has a job interview

Now that’s a good start to the year.

It’s next Tuesday so I have a week to brush up on Framemaker, XML, and the company style sheet. I’m confident in my writing abilities in general — I just need to be comfortable enough talking about the tools they use there that I can overcome any reluctance as a result of my lack of formal Framemaker experience.

I’m excited. I really like the company. It’s one of my favourite companies. And I knew when I was working on the previous contract that I wanted to get experience as a writer there, to improve my understanding of the translation work that gets done.

So, there’s my week mapped out.

Wish me luck.

Yay for January and the end of holidays

It’s been very quiet over the holidays and I was hoping to hear from a recruiter today, since this is the first full week that people are back in their offices and getting down to work since the extended Christmas holidays. But it’s 4pm and I thought today might pass without any job leads. Until now. The agent who placed me at my last contract called. The same company I was working at on that contract has a one-year contract coming up for a writer at the same pay rate. That would be very cool, though a little surreal.

I know they use Framemaker and XML, though, so I’d better brush up on things a little this week.

Thursday bright spots

What a strange Thursday.

Got a call this morning from another contracting agency. It’s the same job I’d applied for over a month ago, that I hadn’t heard anything about in ages. Turns out that specific opening had been filled weeks ago and this is a new opening for the same type of job. The agency is checking now to see if old resumes are being reused or if they’re looking for new resumes. If they’re looking for new, then I think she’s going to submit mine again — she’s going to get back to me by the end of the day. That would be good since I haven’t heard anything else from the original submitting agency.

A few moments after I’d hung from talking with them, I received a call from another agent at a different agency, who’d seen my updated resume on Workopolis. She sent me some forms to fill out so she can start up a file and, in light of the bus strike, we’re going to have a phone meeting on Monday.

So, let me put it out to the Universe. I want to start a new job in January 2009. Really. I’m OK with having the rest of December off but I want, need to get back to work. No, I will get back to work in the new year.

5-Hour Energy

As you know if you read this blog, I have frequent problems with insomnia. I’m just not a day person. Even though I do like the daytime, I’m just more awake at night. Unfortunately, not sleeping properly at night means you’re groggy or even downright sleepy the next day. Not good if you’re working. I used to try to use Pepsi (my previous caffeine vehicle of choice) but that comes with all kinds of less-than-desireable side effects, including caffeine headaches (or, worse, withdrawal headaches), having to pee constantly, and sugar rushes/crashes. It does the trick but, boy, it makes a mess of you while it does it.

5-hour energyKnowing this about myself, and knowing that it was going to become an issue at least once during this new contract, I picked up some berry-flavoured 5-Hour Energy at a local convenience store a couple of weeks ago. Had seen commercials for it but didn’t know anyone who had actually used it before. Looked worth a try. Haven’t needed it…until today.

Couldn’t stay awake this morning, especially since I was doing a monotonous task that I was going to be doing ALL day. Tried to move around, take little stretch breaks, graze continuously but by about 1:30, I was done. A time if ever there was one to try the 5-Hour Energy.


Have you ever chewed a blueberry flavoured vitamin C tablet? Pretty tart tasting, yes? Picture chewing a handful of those with a packet of artificial sweetener. That’s what this tastes like. Not a bad taste, exactly. But really sour and really sweet at the same time. If you’re going to drink this, for the love of god, have a chaser waiting. Water will do. That’s tip #1.

I can still smell it…and taste it a little. Mind you, it seems to have caused a little acid reflux so that’s probably why.

It didn’t have the “wow!” factor of mainlining a little Pepsi or Red Bull but it seems to done what it promised, which is keep me awake without the jitters and sugar crash associated with many other energy drinks. It didn’t suddenly make me hyper perky but it stopped me from falling asleep at my desk. Tired, I can handle. Sleepy, not so much. My afternoon task was even more monotonous than the morning but I didn’t have to get up to move around to stay awake. I even stayed an extra 1.5 hours at work to finish what I was working on.

I developed a little bit of what I recognize as a caffeine headache at about 7 or 8 and, as I mentioned, had some acid reflux problems (trust me, it doesn’t taste any better coming back up). Probably best not to take it right after lunch so consider that tip #2 from me to you. Tip #3 would probably be don’t take it after mid-afternoon. It’s 11pm and I’m just now starting to feel really sleepy again. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t have been able to go to sleep if I’d gone to bed as soon as I came home from work — I don’t know because I didn’t try — but if you have insomnia, why do something that might make it worse?

I see from their site that they now have a decaf version. Not quite sure how that’s supposed to work. The ingredients in their regular versions are vitamin B6, B12, B3, and B9 plus Citicoline, Tyrosine, Phenylamine, Taurine (ooh, like cats need for eyesight health), Malic Acid, Glucuronolactone, and caffeine. Do those really work as well without the little kick of caffeine?

Magical powers

My parents have special, magical powers.

I don’t mean that they can fly or stop bullets or read minds, or even that they can rival David Copperfield. But strange and magical things happen when my parents and I are about to come together. As soon as a decision has been made and tickets bought, something in the Universe starts moving. It affects my life…and it affects the weather wherever we are going to be.

Shortly after they’d announced their trip and bought their tickets for their first visit to see me here, my endless, dreary slogging away at a call centre came to an end with the sudden and unexpected call about the government job that just ended. We had a running joke that they needed to schedule a visit whenever my contract was due to expire. Sure enough, shortly after they scheduled each subsequent trip and bought their tickets, I got notice that my contract was being extended. It happened every time they came for a visit. They didn’t schedule a visit this time and look what happened — an unexpected layoff.

Here’s the funny thing. Now that my ticket has been bought and everything for my quickie trip home in August, the same thing is happening. The work for the existing client is gearing up again, a possible new client has unexpectedly appeared on the horizon, and on Friday I got word that I’d gotten the contract job I’d interviewed for on Thursday. It’s with a company that I’ve been having a hell of a time getting a nibble from by applying the ordinary way so I’m really excited to get started. The job apparently is as a Junior Project Manager, which I think is a hoot. (M, if you read this, you’ll understand the humour in that.)

Oh, yeah, the weather. Almost forgot about that. While the magic surrounding me and employment seems to require only that they book their trip, the magic surrounding the weather happens when they’re here. It’s not always nice magic. Their first trip heralded one of the worst heat and humidity waves I’ve ever experienced here. It arrived with them and left with them. A subsequent trip occurred during Winterlude, one of the warmest Winterludes we’d had — they brought -35 degree temperatures with them that left with them, messing up their plans to walk around but saving the final weekend of Winterlude. Another visit brought with it terrible wind storms that caused severe damage — it also stopped when they left. I wonder if the weather thing works in reverse, too. Better make sure the cat has extra food and water in case I’m snowed in there. LOL