The Soft Start

Friday was my “soft start” in the new company. I needed to start before July 1 to be eligible for medical coverage starting from August 1. It will still be three weeks on no coverage, but at least I will be insured for the next stage of my dental work.

First, Chad wanted me to “start” on June 30 and not bill eight hours of my work. But I told him that since we have “summer Fridays,” and I still have some unused PTO, I can just take half-Friday off and come to his office and make a full workday. It ended up being a great idea since it turned out their HR will be off the week before the holidays. So on Friday, I submitted all my paperwork and was onboarded. I had a badge to enter the building even earlier, so now it’s funny that I work at two places simultaneously. I joked with Boris that now there is no way back, “the marriage certificate is issued,” and Boris told me there was no way back a long time ago.

I am not saying it’s pure joy. I need to do a lot of convincing work with my new coworkers and my new boss, but I am ready for that. I know that I need to understand how exactly my work impacts the company’s financial prosperity. And I love that feeling when the SQL you deployed in production yesterday affects today’s bottom line 🙂

A Hectic Weekend

I am very unhappy about this weekend because I feel like I accomplished nothing (in contrast to the previous weekend). Yes, I had a lot to do, and I forgot how long the planting takes, but still – I needed to do all the things I didn’t do :).

I had several things to complete for both my current work and for my side job, and I completed less than a half for each of them. So now I have this feeling of “there are not enough hours in the week,” and it does not help.

Yesterday, I spent over an hour figuring out why my function did not work and finally went to bed without any solution. Before going to bed, I emailed Boris that things don’t work, and I panic. He replied that I should get out of panic because panic is not the right place for problem-solving. 

He was right, of course, and when I woke up, I figured out the stupid mistake I made the day before. I do not know how IT people who are married to non-IT people can survive!

Saturday was Boris’s birthday. Last year we still could not travel at that time, and I baked a rhubarb tart, and he bought a rhubarb tart, and we ate them on facetime 🙂

This year, Boris said he does not have time to buy a rhubarb tart and that my apple cake is better anyway. So, yes, I baked the Georgis Apple cake yesterday. I told Boris that I would not tell anybody that it was with him in mind, and it was cool with him.

I brought the Apple cake down to the courtyard and messaged all the neighbors. Not everybody was there, of course, but those who were there loved it! Some people were still thanking me today 🙂

I was really happy that I had a way to say Thank you to my amazing neighbors! And I will definitely bake it again 🙂

Trying To Make Work Work

For over a week now, I am working on a slightly modified schedule when I start working between 7 and 7 -30 AM and sign off at 4 PM. Such a schedule gives me about 1.5 hours of uninterrupted problem-solving in the morning. It can be some complicated coding or thinking about some global questions, like how to modify the access groups or what should be done to enhance the system scalability.

I am not saying that I am not working in the evenings. Unfortunately, it happens most of the nights, but I have time in between, and also, late in the evening, it is somewhat quiet as well.

Unfortunately, this week was very frustrating. There were unplanned emergencies; also, I was trying to do one thing the right way, and it didn’t work, and I had to back up after spending almost twelve hours unproductively.

Finally, we are hiring one person for my team. Unfortunately, it means that I will need to spend time on candidates screening and interviewing, and most likely not finding anybody:(. The job posting was published today, and I had a storm of recruiters calls and no organic traffic… If it weren’t for happy things happening in my life, I would be miserable…

Work- Life Balance, And What’s Not

Last week, our CTO asked the tech leadership team to estimate the percentage of all work time we spend on the following categories: the actual management, routine work and processes, and project work. 

I was in Helsinki at that moment, and since I had some extra time< and Boris was there, I decided to approach this task creatively. 

We had different views on what should be considered the project work and whatnot, but in the end, I decided to count as project work only the code writing and coming up with ideas on how to do certain things. I classified all the project planning, discussions with businesses, etc. as management. 

To calculate the percentage of each activity, I needed to calculate the number of hours I spent on each of them. Since I had time, I didn’t just estimate, but I looked at the three previous weeks and calculated the average numbers. 

It turned out that I work 55 hours a week, and I could not believe that number when I saw it. I always thought that if I worked during the after-hours, that’s because I spent some time during the workday for some non-work things. No wonder I felt so tired in the past weeks, and no wonder I felt that I need some vacation, And no wonder I did pretty much nothing in Helsinki. 

All of the above might explain my reaction to the “Laziness Does Not Exist” book. These past three weeks were the weeks when we finished working on the book, and immediately all the extra time I had was taken by work, and that was not right. A side note: when I calculated the total number of hours I work, I included the “natural time waste,” which totals to about an hour a day: sort intervals between meeting, coffee, and bathroom breaks, stretches, and other small distractions. They are essential for your normal functioning, and thereby should not be subtracted from the work time. 

It’s not that I never knew all that. I knew, and I was encouraging other people to not overwork. But for some reason, I always thought that “this does not apply to me.” Because I am passionate about my work, because this is not hard for me, because I am a superhuman, and for whatever other reasons. 

I am trying to change it now, and I realized that I need to advocate for myself the same way I advocate for others. 

Multiple Reasons To Be Upset

Over the past seven months, I was praising Metra commuters for wearing masks and keeping the distance. 

However, tonight, on my ride back home, two middle-aged guys in the car were sitting in front of each other with no masks talking and drinking beer. I didn’t realize they were mask-less until I got up to exit. When I saw it, I told them: guys, you should wear masks on the train! It’s a requirement! They ignored, and the next passenger leaving the car said something about assholes, referring to them. Again, they didn’t care, and it was really upsetting. 

Yesterday, when I talked to Mom, I found out that she forgot that I gave her Kindle for her birthday, and she even forgot what the Kindle is. Fortunately, she found it, and I took it home to copy a book she wanted to read. After work, I stopped by her place to return her Kindle and make sure she knows how to use it. We practiced several times, and she just emailed me, “thank you for your gift.” I am very tired and upset each time I talk to her, and I do not understand why. It does not take a lot to listen to her for half an hour, and I do not understand why it.

Also, it’s a lot of work at work! And I mean just urgent work, which needs to be done, I am very sorry that people need to wait for days for me to do small things, but I can’t squizz more in my days than I do now.

And a vaccine. The disorganization is above and beyond anything I saw before. With Mom being eligible, I still can’t sign her up. I know that I need to start taking her to places because otherwise, her brain will die. But now, that vaccine is so close; you do not want to expose her till she is vaccinated… 

Also, one of the very important Postgres people emailed me about our “not enough” licenses on our data sources in the postgres_air database, and I spent the rest of the evening (after mom) putting these licenses together. 

Why is it that objectively, I am on the peak of everything, but subjectively I feel really exhausted? 

Stress, Chocolate And Me

I hoped that this weekend would be a “return to normal,” but it ended up being anything like that. On Friday evening, after I already spent two days trying to resolve upgrade issues, I realized that I would have to work on Saturday. At that point, I thought it would be just a couple of hours (it ended up being eight).

I had a million things to do in the morning, so I told my co-worker that I want to start the next upgrade at one. That still put me on a tight schedule since I also planned to talk to Boris before work started.

I was trying to lay out all my morning moves in the best possible way, including the fact that I had to go shopping with mom.

The point is that I was trying very hard to keep my schedule and be home at noon to talk to Boris, and I had ten stops to make.

As a result, I forgot two things. One is that I forgot to apply my birthday coupon at IKEA (it was valid for the whole month of January, but I am not planning to go there one more time). And the second is that I forgot to pick up my Brazilian chocolates at the w=Winter market. They are only there for two hours every other Saturday, and they only deliver pre-orders. Not like I do not have enough chocolate at home, but I thought it would be nice to support them, and my birthday is a good reason to do so.

So I ordered a box of brigadeiros and two packages of alfajores and figure out that between mom, post office, and IKEA, I will be able to stop by the Winter market. And I forgot!
Moreover, it turned out they texted me fifteen minutes before the market was over, and I didn’t see this message because I was already late for my online date:).
I only saw this message two hours later, when I was already deep in work and texted then a million apologies.

Their reply was: we are glad you are OK! I realized that, knowing me for a while, they could not imagine anything stopping me from picking up chocolates! And then they texted me that they will deliver, and they did.

ANd it was so good to have all this chocolate at the end of exceptionally stressful day!

A Week From Hell

That was quite a week! Tuesday and Wednesday, I was trying to participate in the conference held in the GMT timezone. For Thursday morning, I was invited to participate in the Roundtable for Women Influencers of Chicago (yea, apparently, I am an influencer – who would have known!) It was a virtual business breakfast, so my personal time in the morning was gone for one more day.

Work was all meetings, which meant that I had to spend at least two more hours after work to do some work :). Next is a virtual pile of professional – not work-related messages, which I have to respond to because when people reach out to you, you have to reply with words of support and encouragement.

And only after that – any personal emails, trying to shop for Christmas gifts, trying to put up just one decoration…

And it was all good and important, I didn’t have any meetings, which were useless, it’s just – too much! I need another me!

I took a day off today to catch up with life and to clear a weekend. I hope I can still write a couple of pages for the book because I am behind the way I do not want to be…

My Very Rare Family Time

I am on my way back to Chicago. It was a strange trip, for sure. After being on that overbooked UA flight, I regretted my decision to go and thought that Boris is right that we should not make too many moves during a pandemic.

In Helsinki, the situation was not the same as when I was there in October. They have way more cases than previously. Although it’s still way less than in Illinois, and the number of deaths, hospitalized patients, and patients in ICU is microscopic compared to our number, more restrictions are still instilled.

That meant that we didn’t go to any concerts, and in general did less outside home. Although this time we were biking together again.

Another factor that influenced how I felt was my panic about the speed with which our book is going and that we are behind all possible deadlines. And finally, the fact that I needed to record my presentation for the conference!

At some point, I asked Boris whether he thought it was the right idea for me to travel. He said that he hoped that I was able to relax. And the surprising thing is that it was true!

When I decided to go, I joked that it was the most expensive way to avoid holiday cooking and cleaning. But the fact is that for the whole week, I didn’t cook a single meal, didn’t wash a single plate, and didn’t do laundry. And I did only fun shopping if anything.

Although Boris had to teach a class this week and had some work meetings and some work in general, he allowed me to concentrate on writing 100%. And I am really thankful for that!
Also, I completely forgot that I wanted to print our logo on a t-shirt. And that Boris also wanted a t-shirt with this logo, and even bought a white t-shirt for that. We did it on Sunday – and that’s what I just posted:) (I wrote it yesterday but forgot to publish)