The Talented Mrs. Jennicorn

I had an important delivery to make but the door was closed. An unusual sign from my extroverted colleague. I cautiously placed my ear against the door, searching for signs of life. Oddly, no sounds emerged, so I leaned in. Not realizing that his door does not function properly, I fell into his office for all 15+ conference attendees to see.

Is it time to go home yet?

The Return of the Jen

My corporate hiatus lasted five months. In all fairness, my new position was an accidental find, one that has been fun and rewarding.

It started as a temporary position, and I had zero intention of becoming an FTE. What changed my mind? The company and even its leadership aligned with my own values:

  • Collaboration
  • Loyalty
  • Servicing the greater good

Not to mention they “made me an offer I couldn’t refuse” [in my Godfather voice].

All joking aside, my hiatus wasn’t a total waste of time. I was able to learn who I am, what I want, and what I value. I learned to ask for help; I even began therapy with an amazing therapist, and with each step, I’m here and stronger than ever.

Quarantine Day 27

Well, here we are.

It’s been 27 days since the office shut down, 21 days since my last post, 12 days since Maryland was ordered to shelter in place, and 10 days since I last wore shoes. Today it occurred to me to mark the first day of quarantine in my work planner, you know, for posterity or something.

Don’t come after me if they don’t get better, I’m just speculating.

I can’t say the quarantine has drastically altered anything that I’d normally be doing, since I have no life and weekend staycations are my jam and I’m that person who makes up excuses to avoid going out, but I do start to go slightly bats when I can’t drive off whenever I want, so I now have planned excursions every couple of weeks. This week Jennicorn and I took advantage of Krispy Kreme’s Be Sweet Saturday and went halfsies on a box of donuts, because we’re adults and we make excellent decisions.

I have no idea who needs to hear this right now, but Krispy Kreme is running a quarantine deal where if you buy a dozen glazed donuts on a Saturday you get a second box for free. Jennicorn agreed to split the cost of one box, so we each ended up with a dozen donuts for five bucks. I also got to see Jennicorn face to face when I dropped off the donuts at her house, which was really nice. As a card-carrying modern-day suburban hermit who was social distancing way before it was cool, I sometimes forget how nice it is just to hang out, even if you’re six feet apart and separated by a door.

Other than the quarantine, life has been going pretty much the same as usual. My main hurdle so far has been learning to telework, which I’ve honestly never done because I’ve never been essential enough or permanent enough to be trusted with company equpiment. I normally wouldn’t be teleworking even in this job, but in this case we had no choice, so I’ve spent the better part of the last month trying to figure out how to balance work and life without getting them tangled, and it’s been a trip. The biggest problem was that it took a while to get used to the idea of being barred from the office, because my first day of telework was an unqualified disaster. Everything in my life seems to like to stack up at once, so the week we went into quarantine was also the week I was telecommuting for the first time in my life, setting up my new work laptop, trying to figure out how to get the server to work, and shipping three difficult projects, none of which seemed to want to die a quiet death. I’d pulled all my files off the server and loaded them onto the laptop beforehand and thought I was ready, but then I actually got started and realized that between the server, the volume and complexity of the edits, and my wi-fi speed, there was no conceivable way to ship from home. This did not have a happy ending: it ended with me running to the office around noon on Monday after spending thirty minutes trying to open one file, and then staying at the office till 10 pm and getting in the cleaners’ way. Then on Tuesday I told myself I was going to stay home for the whole day, but my resolution cracked like an egg when I realized I’d completely failed to package a crucial InDesign file while I was in the office on Monday. Since I’d been allowed to go in on Monday, I sneaked back in on Tuesday afternoon and got in the cleaners’ way again. On Wednesday I finally figured out how to get around the wi-fi problem and stopped going into the office for every little emergency, which means I’ve been pretty much camped out here for the last month.

I still haven’t completely figured out the work-life thing, partly because there are currently zero degrees of separation between my bedroom and my office, but mostly because I had eight projects shipping during the first three weeks of quarantine. This past week was much more relaxed; those eight projects all got shoveled out the door, so I was able to slow down and take it easy for a bit. It’s a lot easier to balance work and life when you’re not working late every night and I get to wear sweatpants to work and have a nice lunch if I feel like it, so things aren’t too bad right now. I’ve also gotten to spend more time with my new coworker, the Senior Nap Manager.

Teleworking isn’t always the greatest, but the Senior Nap Manager keeps me on track and reminds me to take every day as it comes. As frustrating as work can be, I keep reminding myself how lucky I am to have a steady job that lets me work from home. I can’t imagine what kind of trouble I’d be in right now if I hadn’t found this job, if I’d been working at Papyrus up to the day it went bankrupt. As much as I complain, I’m still glad to be here. I’m glad to be part of a team that works hard and doesn’t mind when I prank them on the team forum, which I did last Wednesday. It took a little while for the joke to sink in, but they got it eventually. 🤣

PSA: Always check your pockets. I left my violin in my pocket on laundry day and she shrank in the wash. Worst. Day. Ever. 😭😭😭

And now, since I’ve run out of things to say and I do kinda miss going out, here’s a couple of pics from the last time (I think?) I was in a restaurant:

……….I really need to clean out my phone.

So Over April

Spring has come to Maryland and apparently this is a good thing? I can’t speak for everybody else, but tbh I’m pretty over it because we’re right smack in the middle of The Pollening and everyone’s been sneezing their brains out. The good news is that cute Easter rings arrived in the bakery at work:

My mom said the bunny looks like an egg and dude she’s not wrong 😂😂😂 I’m not sure what I’m going to do with Mr. Bunny, but right now he’s down in the kitchen keeping the owl salt and pepper shakers company. In the meantime here’s more food pics, because apparently this is a food blog now #IAcceptFullResponsibility

Yesterday one of the senior designers wanted tacos for lunch, so she mobilized the rest of us and we dropped all our projects and piled into two cars and ran off to the nearest taco bar. I’d never been to this place, but I see it all the time because it’s fused to the convenience store attached to the gas station down the street from the office. I’m not really sure if it’s actually part of the gas station or not, but either way it’s apparently so popular that by the time we got there there were about a billion people milling around trying to buy tacos. Luckily we weren’t planning on staying anyway, so we got our food and scooted back to work before anyone noticed the entire design department was missing. And after the tacos there was cake, because it was somebody’s birthday and the universe is clearly trying to kill me.

I. REGRET. NOTHINNNNNNG.

In other news I was going to talk a little bit about my progress on The Count of Monte Cristo but it quickly spiraled out of control and ballooned into a huge long rant and I couldn’t figure out how to finish it and I am le tired so that will have to wait for another post x_____x (but seriously I have to finish Monte Cristo because I finally got my hands on The Ghost Bride and it’s by a new  author named Yangsze Choo who sounds literally like my twin and it looks divine and I want to read it nowwwwwww gaaaAAAHHH #bookwormproblems)

This is how fucking inconveniently OCD I am: I bought Choo’s second book before I bought Ghost Bride (meant to buy them both at once but it wasn’t meant to be), but I made the mistake of peeking into The Night Tiger a little bit farther than I should have and I saw a line that looked like a reference to Ghost Bride and now I have to read Ghost Bride before I read Night Tiger because SPOILERS.

And now it’s way later than I planned and I am still le tired, and it’s time for kitty-dragons to go to bed. Good night, world. We’ll rant together tomorrow.

P.S. I JUST THIS MOMENT SAW A GOODREADS REVIEW THAT SAYS GHOST BRIDE IS SPIRITED AWAY FOR ADULTS AND IF THAT’S TRUE I’M GOING TO CRY HUGE TEARS OF HAPPINESS NNNNNRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHH MUST FINISH MONTE CRISTO T_____T

Aftermath

Or: It’s been a little over a week since we woke up to a Jennicorn-shaped hole in the wall, and I suddenly remembered I promised journal comics.

On Jennicorn’s last night, I decided it would be nice to stalk find her and say goodbye before I went home.

Fortunately everyone else on her floor had gone home, so there was nobody around to wonder why a dragon was scaling her cube. Unfortunately the cube was empty, so I said goodbye to her coat and then went off to my car.

Epilogue

There actually was a happy ending to this because (1) I decided this would make a good journal comic, (2) I realized I had no idea how to draw a cubicle, and (3) I’ve watched too many movies. Jennicorn turned out to be in a nearby conference room while I was saying goodbye to her coat, and she came out in time to catch me taking pictures of her cube because I’m ridiculous. Whatever works…

I quit.

By close of business of 3/28/19, I will be unemployed without any job offers. I do, however, have a million and one ideas, 13% of a plan, a strong and loving support group, and a sprinkle of motivation.  Do I feel free? Absolutely. Am I scared? Yes. Was this reckless? Perhaps.

I loved the job and have grown friendships with many of my colleagues; I was also doing more than stellar work according to my performance review, and the pay and benefits weren’t so bad. Then why, one might ask, would I sacrifice the comforts of steady pay and benefits?

Because I sacrificed sleep, time with my loved ones, my mental health, and even food; I literally starved myself. Months of sudden sickness that came and went, then a whole month of constant nausea and random vomiting, sometimes at 2 o’clock in the morning, along with numerous doctor visits, pregnancy tests and blood work that all came back negative or inconclusive, poking and prodding, weighing and analyzing – I was at the brink of insanity. Finally, my general physician and I combed through the last seven months of my life:

50- to 60-hours or more work weeks, often working through nights and weekends. Eating one meal or snack per day, only drinking coffee. Barely sleeping, if at all. Constant exhaustion.

After a long conversation with my GP, during which she pointed out that I had lost 20 lbs since August, it was clear I had unintentionally shrunk my stomach so that anything more than what I was used to, which was only an XL hot coffee, my body was rejecting.

The realization of what I had done to myself hit me pretty damn hard – I became a corporate potato, sacrificing so much of myself, only to ensure the wealth of a corporation. So, I had to make a choice, and I chose me with my one million and one ideas, my 13% of a plan, my amazing loved ones, and the little bit of motivation. I will conquer whatever it is I am meant to conquer. Perhaps I’ll start with everything I have left unfinished.

Corporate Potato

Do you work long hours in an open office that could best be described as a dystopian hellscape?

Have you forgotten what sunlight feels like?

Do the majority of foods you eat come from a wrapper, paper bag, box, or styrofoam container?

Would you consider exercise a four-letter word and the stairs your mortal enemy (unless the alternative is sharing the elevator with another person)?

Have you had a decent night’s sleep… ever?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, you might be a corporate potato.

But don’t worry – you’re not alone. There is treatment available.

It’s called vodka. It’s made from our potato tears.

Stay salty, my friends.