Friday, October 08, 2021

Some Updates

So, it has been awhile.

A lot has happened and my weekends just never seemed to have time for a blog post.

I'm not sure if my Saturday mornings will eventually settle down again and I'll be able to bring Weekend Reading posts back. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. I've decided I have to just let things evolve for a bit and see where I land.


Let's start this update with something unequivocally good. Petunia turned 12 last weekend. We got her first covid shot on her birthday. She hates shots in a way that approaches a phobia but she wanted her shot as soon as she could get it. She also wanted it done first thing on her birthday so that the dread of the event didn't hang over too much of her birthday. After much searching I found a place where I could get her an appointment without lying on the form that would become the basis of her online vaccine record and we got her shot at about 9 a.m. on her birthday. She'd requested Krispy Kreme doughnuts as her shot reward and a birthday treat, so we had those waiting for us when we got home. 

She had her birthday all planned out, culminating in a party in our backyard. After much discussion, we'd found a covid-safe party option that she was excited about. We rented an inflatable big screen and projector and she watched a movie in our backyard with some of her friends. It all went beautifully.

The big screen

I am so glad she got the birthday she wanted because the pandemic has been hard for her. It was nice to see her so happy.


In other pretty good news, Petunia has also started taking ballet classes. My online searching yielded exactly one class for beginners her age in San Diego. It is in Balboa Park, so there is a side benefit that my husband and I have had dinner out in Balboa Park for the last few weeks. We eat at Panama 66 at the Sculpture Garden and it is delightful. Also, Petunia is loving ballet so far and it turns out ballet buns are pretty easy to do.


In less unambiguously good news... Petunia's hamster had to have surgery last week. We noticed some blood Sunday evening and after an anxious night, I called the vet Monday morning. He quickly diagnosed a uterine tumor and said the solution was to spay her. Since she is "just" a hamster he presented the option of doing nothing, but I couldn't stomach that. She would have slowly bled to death. We could afford the surgery so we got her the surgery and she came through great. She had to go back to the vet yesterday because she's been a bit lethargic, sleeping much more than usual, and not eating her favorite treats. She had chewed off one set of stitches, but those were apparently just the surface stitches and the vet didn't think the incision was infected. Still, he gave us some cream to put on her tummy and some antibiotics to give her and she already seems to be improving a bit. She is a much loved hamster and we are watching her anxiously, hoping she is back to her usual energetic self soon.


In just downright ambiguous news... something may or may not be up with my heart. I've had a couple of instances of irregular heartbeat in the last few months. On the second instance, I thought to put my pulse oximeter on my finger and discovered my heart rate was also alarmingly high. I went to urgent care after the first incident and was pronounced completely normal. I didn't bother the second time because the incident was over within about 5 minutes but got told off for that by my doctor who thinks I should call 911 and go to the ER if it happens again. I am not at all enthused about showing up to the ER 15 minutes after an incident has resolved and I am no longer "emergent" because I think that will mean I'll spend hours in a waiting room surrounded by people with COVID. So hopefully I don't have another incident.

I did buy a personal EKG monitor that works with my cell phone, though, so that if it does happen I can try to capture some data that might tell the doctors what is going on. (This is what I bought. It is pretty cool even though so far all my readings have been normal.)

I have also had some short periods of chest tightness which might be something new or might be asthma or might be stress... it is so hard to know what to think. 

My doctor also ordered a Holter monitor (which is essentially a portable EKG) which I had to wear all day yesterday. I didn't have an irregular heartbeat incident but I did have a few periods of the short feeling of chest tightness. I will be interested to see what the monitor readings show, but I am not getting my hopes up for any answers.


Back to the unequivocally good news... we had solar panels and a battery installed last month. They had their final inspection last week and were made operational a couple of days ago and so as I type, the lights in my house are being kept on by our battery. We have a fancy app that shows how much power is coming from (or going to) the solar panels, the battery, and the grid. Today was a sunny day and the panels produced enough power to keep our house running, charge the battery, and send some power to the grid. It will be fun to see what our power usage will be over a longer period of time and figure out what the best settings for our system are and when we should charge our car now. We had been charging in the middle of the night when power was cheapest but maybe now we'll charge in the middle of the day when the power is free!


I think that's the main news here. Work is still too busy and a bit fraught. I am hoping to fix it soon but there are some unusual circumstances that are legitimately slowing things down. I'm not sure how long I'll give my management to sort this out, though, especially if I decide the heart issues are aggravated (or perhaps even caused) by stress. At some point, I will have to stop being patient and understanding and get the changes I need even if that means running a job search and finding a new job. I hope it doesn't come to that!


Share your updates, theories about what is going on with my heart, and random other things in the comments!

Saturday, September 04, 2021

Back to School and Back to Work

The first week of high school was exhausting.

I'm joking, but only a bit. Everything is fine - better than fine, even - but helping a child who inherited my tendency to worry about and overthink everything navigate her first week in a new school (remember, she was at a K-8 school before this!) and the fact that music at this school turned out to be different than expected... well, that's been a challenge.

At one point I asked her why she didn't talk to her father, who doesn't tend to worry about much of anything, for advice and she said that he doesn't worry so he wouldn't know what to do about worrying. Fair enough! But I don't know either, or I wouldn't be (in)famous in the family for worrying about things!

Anyway, we made it through. She ended the week on a real high note, very happy with how her schedule has ended up.

(And yes, she approved me posting this. My kids are old enough now that I ask permission before sharing details like this.)

The start of middle school for Petunia has gone well, too, although there was a communication failure around the in school COVID testing plan and so she missed her first weekly test. I'm sure they'll get it sorted out and she'll be tested next week. 

We made it through the first week without any exposure notifications. We came disturbingly close to running out of the KF94s the kids wear at school, so the high schooler went with a cloth mask with a filter one day. Our new supply of masks arrived yesterday and we're set now.

As for me... well, work continues to be tough. The vacation and my rocky return from it have clarified my thinking on work, though, and I now think I know what is wrong and what I need to do. Basically, as my company grew the role of project manager morphed into a more traditional project management role and that is no longer a great fit for me. I can do the job, and in fact from the feedback I get I'm pretty good at it. But I don't enjoy it. I liked it more when the lines between roles were less well-defined and my job involved more of the analysis and design I enjoy. 

Basically, I realized that I was so slammed upon coming back from vacation because I'm doing a bunch of things that aren't technically my job, but I don't want to jettison those things because they are the things I like doing the most. I can't jettison the other things because they are a required part of my job. And I can't keep doing all the things because it is too much.

So I have started talking to the appropriate people about finding me a role that is a better fit. I have caught up enough that I don't have to be in a huge rush - work will feel manageable again within a week or so, I think. But it isn't sustainable in the long term so I want to fix that.

I decided to try to fix it at my current company instead of just starting a job search because I really, really like the people at my company. They are all really great to work with and I've been in the work world long enough to know how unusual that is. 

There is another small part to this decision, too - the people at this company know me and value me and will give me any flexibility I need as we ride out the rest of this pandemic and indeed as I navigate this new phase of parenting.

I am reading This is How it Always Is, by Laurie Frankel, and there is a passage that I read last week that really resonated. The woman in the story is a doctor and the book is explaining why she's stayed in the same place where she did her training:

But Roo followed by Ben followed by Rigel and Orion had put a stop to that plan too, children being the enemies of plans and also the enemies of anything besides themselves. UW knew her work ethic and track record, never mind her taking yet another maternity leave, never mind the final months when she couldn't even fit bedside, or the months before that when she couldn't lift patients or much of anything else, never mind the mornings she was too nauseated to work and the nights she called in sick because the only place more germ laden than a hospital is an elementary school. She was worth it. But no one outside UW Hospital new it. And so she stayed.

Oof, that hit hard. It is not an exact parallel to my situation, because I have enough former colleagues scattered around in other companies in my industry that I could find another place that would mostly know I am worth it. But that is different from being at a place where pretty much everyone knows you're worth it and also you've all covered for each other through various family emergencies big and small. There is a value to that I would have struggled to put my finger on before I read that passage in the book.

I feel better now that I've figured out what needs to happen and started the discussions to make it happen. 

My general lessons from this are: 

  • Just because you're good at something that doesn't mean that thing is what you are meant to be doing
  • There is a big difference from knowing something in the abstract (e.g., job roles tend to solidify and reduce down to the key aspects of a job title as a company grows) and recognizing it happening in your life
  • If you're struggling at work sometimes what you need to do is take a vacation so that you can get enough head space to figure things out.

So, I'm feeling better heading into this long weekend but still behind on a bunch of things. It will be another busy weekend, but at least with the extra day I will probably get some more relaxation time.

I have still been restricting my social media time because so much of what is in my feed just makes me want to either scream or cry and that isn't really what I need right now, so I decided not to try to do links. I am not sure when they'll be back. Sorry to anyone who misses them!

I do have one funny thing for you:

And here's a rabbit:

Have a good weekend everyone!

Saturday, August 28, 2021

I Am Back... Sort Of

I am back from vacation but sooo behind on everything. We got back a week ago. The vacation was wonderful - I hope to write it up on Adjusted Latitudes soon, and I'm currently sharing pictures from each day on Instagram (I'm @restlessrabbit42 over there).

I was worried about the airports and airplanes but mostly people followed the mask rules and it felt OK. We managed to keep to our rule of no indoor dining and no indoor anything with masks off. It meant more dinners in at our AirBnB than we'd usually do, but that is why we booked AirBnBs and not hotels. I thought I might get us all rapid tests before school starts on Monday but the at home rapid tests are sold out everywhere and so oh well. We'll be signing the kids up for the school district's testing program, so starting next week they'll get a weekly test.

I feel OK about the start of school. My kids are going in person. The district has a mask mandate, now expanded to include outdoors except when eating. The district listened to some good experts last year and have upgraded air filtration and installed CO2 monitors (as a way of monitoring air circulation). California issued a rule requiring all school employees to be vaccinated or get tested weekly. My younger daughter is continuing in our Spanish language immersion school. It is a small school that we know well and that did a good job with reopening last year. My older daughter is starting high school - so more kids and we don't know the school yet. But she's fully vaccinated. 

So yeah, I don't feel great about it but I feel OK.

I have so much more I could say about the COVID stuff but it is nothing new. 

The vacation and coming back to be immediately overwhelmed at work again was an edifying experience, though. I have to fix some things at work for the sake of my health, both mental and physical, and for the sake of actually being able to continue working until retirement. I may have more to say on that at some point, but not yet. I'm still figuring out what to do but I have a clearer picture of the problem.

I don't have time to go through and pull out links today. As I mentioned above, school starts Monday and so there's a lot of things to do get ready. We are also getting solar panels installed starting Monday. That was not our ideal timing but the permitting that we were expecting to take six weeks went through really quickly and so we already pushed installation out further than the solar company wanted. We are also getting a battery so we need to clean the garage to make space for that. We need to clean the garage, anyway, because Petunia really wanted her last year of Lego robotics that I had promised her. It was supposed to be last year, but that didn't happen and so we decided to do it this year. It will be in the garage with the doors wide open even when it gets colder, and we will all be masked all the time. And yet all of her teammates wanted to come back. I think kids are missing their activities. 

All of which is to say... I am back in town, back to work, but not really back here. Maybe next week.

But here's a bunny at least:

Have a good weekend everyone!

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Weekend Reading: Taking a Break Edition

I'm going to be even scarcer than usual around her for the next few weeks. I've got some vacation time coming up and I think I'm going to try to unplug from everything and see if that helps my burnout. 

Anyway, the links are all starting to seem the same. There are only so many ways to say "get vaccinated," I guess!

If you've seen the news about the Provincetown outbreak and other breakthrough infections and are feeling worried, this thread may help:

Personally, I'm glad we're back to more mandates/encouragement to wear masks because I think we should all keep wearing masks indoors until kids can be vaccinated. I am very grateful to be living in a place where the school district has already announced masks will be required indoors, although they are apparently getting sued for their troubles. The new CDC guidance makes me worry a little less about that lawsuit, at least.

Nicoleandmaggie have a post with a scripts for contacting your elected officials if you live in a place that is prohibiting mask mandates and with a reminder that perhaps people like me should email our officials to thank them for protecting our kids.

In other news:

This thread from Amanda Knox is really good and thought-provoking. (Note: Both the thread and the article discuss plot details of the movie Stillwater that would probably be considered spoilers.)

She's also written a piece in The Atlantic expanding on these thoughts.

Based on Jennywenny's recommendation in the comments last week, I decided to check out the Ten Percent Happier podcast. The episode I picked to try is called Getting Over Yourself, and is an interview with Joseph Goldstein. He mentioned a type of meditation where you just notice which sense has your attention. I tried it on a walk later in the week and it is an interesting exercise. I didn't really notice more things, but I noticed them more fully. I might try it again.

Next time I'm in Albuquerque I'll check out the Bow and Arrow Brewery

In case you missed it, last weekend I posted a Something Splendid over at Adjusted Latitudes - a photo that made me miss New Zealand and my family there so much when I came across it that I knew I couldn't turn it into a "where in the world" quiz. It is too obviously New Zealand! 

And that's all I have this week.

Here are your rabbits for the week:

Have a good weekend! I'll see you in a few weeks.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Weekend Reading: Trying to Relax Edition

I had a scary experience Thursday. I had just sat down to work, a little later than usual because Petunia had slept in a bit. I felt a tickle in my throat, coughed, and then my heartbeat went screwy. I do not know whether to call it an irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations or something else, but I knew that if I didn't lay down I'd probably pass out so I went to the sofa and waited for it to pass. My husband was in the shower. By the time he came out, my heart was beating normally again and I was feeling a bit better. I called my doctor's office, thinking I'd make an appointment for later. They had me talk to the triage nurse, who had me measure my pulse (that pulse oximeter I bought last year came in handy again!) It was still jumping around quite a bit so said I should go to urgent care.

I was seen quickly at urgent care, but even so by the time they took an EKG everything was back to normal. None of the tests they could do told us anything about what had happened, so I was sent home and told that if it happens again I should go straight to either the ER or urgent care so that they can try to catch the irregular rhythm and see what it is. 

So I'm left with waiting and hoping I never know what happened, because the only way to find out is to have it happen again! I am also wondering if the fact that I feel stressed so often and/or the fact that I am struggling to get enough sleep contributed to this event. Of course, whether these factors contributed or not, it would be better to reduce my stress levels and get enough sleep. The trick is in figuring out how to do that when one reason for my elevated stress levels is the difficulty of navigating this ongoing pandemic with one child still unvaccinated and when the reason I'm not getting enough sleep is that same child's sleep difficulties. 

Still, I need to try to make things better. We're trying various things our pediatrician recommended on the sleep front. There isn't much more I can do there, unfortunately, so I'm working on the stress levels. I've started prioritizing my Friday rollerblade outing. I can almost always get away in the early afternoon (this time of year, I want to be done with my rollerblade and leaving Pacific Beach before 4 p.m. to avoid a post-beach traffic jam), I just sometimes have to "pay" for that with an hour or two of work after dinner.  That is not a bad trade at all. Rollerblading again helps, but it is not enough. We have a vacation coming up, so maybe that will help. I am also planning to spend some time in my hammock this weekend, relaxing and thinking about how I can really relax.  If you have some favorite things that help your relax when the world around is so not relaxing... drop them in the comments! I am definitely open to suggestions.

Anyway, let's see what links I have for you this week.

This thread and the linked Lancet article about the cognitive effects of COVID is... sobering. 

As is this interview with CΓ©line Gounder, particularly the part about how much more easily the Delta variant spreads. However, I found her comments on outdoor transmission (still likely to be rare, except perhaps at crowded events) reasuring.

Aubrey Hirsch's cartoon "Not Vax Kids' Summer" is so spot on.

This long thread about what sociology research can tell us about how to deal with anti-vaxxers is really good. Read the whole thing, but I thought this point about how "coolers" (people within the community of the anti-vaxxers who can show them a way back to reality) function was particularly important:

In non-COVID news:

I clicked on this Rachel Aviv article about a German experiment that placed foster children with pedophiles thinking I'd skim or read a bit and then click away but I read the whole thing and am still processing it. It is a really well-written article that made me think about all the ways traumatic events echo through societies.

I have two really interesting podcast episodes to recommend: Ezra Klein's interview with Annie Murphy Paul about all the ways we make it harder for our brains to work and Sean Illing's interview with Michael Pollan about drugs (and his new book This is Your Mind on Plants).

In things that made me smile:

Some Australian cockatoos have learned how to open garbage bins... and more are learning by watching them.

These AI generated images of "LA" are cool:

A recipe I want to try:

Here's this week's rabbit:

Have a good weekend everyone! I am off to try to relax. Well, first I need to take some returns to the post office, but then I can relax!