A scare

We had a bit of a scare the Thursday afternoon we left for Portland and then Rhode Island. A few weeks before that, John emailed his HR department to find out if RI is one of the states his company has set up payroll taxes for.  I didn’t bother emailing mine because I’ve had several conversations with them about moving around, and they had indicated that even if they’re not set up in a particular state, it’s not a big deal to get it done.

So right at the end of the workday that Thursday, John got an email from his boss saying that HR won’t support our move to RI – it’ll cost too much for them to set it up.  John swooped into my office to give me the good news (really – he slid in in his socks).  If his company says he can’t move where we want to go, then screw the company – he’ll quit.  (He’s so excited – he’s been itching for an excuse.)  I had been waiting to email HR until we knew exactly where we were going to live because I didn’t think it would be helpful to them to know we were thinking about three or four states – they don’t care until we pick one – but I figured that with John’s news, I should check.

I emailed Jenny, my HR person, and told her that we’re probably moving to RI at the end of August, but we’ll know for sure by the end of next week.  Her response only said that RI isn’t on the list of states they allow, so I emailed back “If a state isn’t on the list, does that mean I can’t move there?” and tried to keep the freak-out to a minimum.  By the time I sent that email, it was after working hours, so we got in the car (Portland and airport-bound) and started discussing worst case scenarios.  I mean, there’s really only one worst case scenario, but what would we do if it happened, if both of our companies said we couldn’t live in RI?

And what does it say about us that our reaction is to quit, since we don’t think they should have any say over where we live?

We spent the car ride making plans.  Let’s say my HR says they can’t/won’t set up payroll in RI.  First step: appeal to my boss.  Can he convince the company to set up payroll in RI if the alternative is I quit?  Am I that valuable?  Let’s say they still say no.  What states are already allowed?  None in New England, but New York is on the list.  Would we consider New York?  Is it worth a year in NY if it keeps my job and gives us both time to find others (so we can move to New England)?  Or do we both quit anyway and take our chances on moving and finding work quickly?  What about not moving at all?  Or what about not signing a lease yet and moving homeless at the end of the month anyway, but when we maybe know more about the situation?  We could crash with family if it came down to it.

We had everything mapped out and were starting to feel okay with our plans when we stopped for dinner and before we even ordered I had my answer back from Jenny.  To the question “If a state isn’t on the list, does that mean I can’t move there?”, she replied “No, that’s not what it means.  Tell me which state you pick.  We’ll work it out.”

Big sighs of relief plus a cucumber margarita, and we were able to sleep that night.  As well as possible, anyway, in the loud and kind of icky Ramada.

I don’t need that kind of stress.  I aged a year in those two hours.

Too early to tell

We’ve only had one full day of house/apartment hunting.  I have to keep reminding myself of that.  We didn’t find our next home yesterday (Monday), but that doesn’t mean we’re destined to be homeless.

It’s only been a day.

It’s only been a day.

It’s only been a day.

There.  That might work.  Partly, it’s frustration.  We’ve found a lot of places we’d like to look at, but we’re not getting a lot of responses so we can’t schedule times to actually see them and I feel like we’re spinning our wheels.  After one day.  Which I realize is ridiculous.  We sent out a bunch of messages around 10pm last night, and it’s not even 8am right now, so to be worried that we haven’t heard back when no one has gotten to work yet is not terribly reasonable.

I can be reasonable.  And we still have four full days to look, including today.

This is stressful.

On the other hand, already this visit has reaffirmed for us how much we’d like to live in Newport or Bristol or a couple of neighborhoods in Providence.  If we have to go further afield to find our very next place, at least we’re sure we want to make it work here at some point.

Deep breath.  Shower (I think I sweat more in hotel gyms – no breeze!) . Breakfast.  Search.

So much no

I try to keep this blog free of real things that bother me.  I mean, I certainly complain about stuff, but I don’t get into serious issues.  I don’t plan to, either.  I spend all day reading the news and talking about the god-awful things that are going on, and the last thing I want to do is write about them.

I’m angry, I’m sad, and I’m scared, and I DON’T want to talk about it.  I want to hide and wake up from this terrible dream.

I won’t hide, and I will do something.  I donated to the ACLU, I’ll be donating to other organizations, I’m calling my congresspeople daily, and I’ll continue to go to protests and otherwise get involved locally.  I’m thinking about other things I can do.

In the meantime, I want to stay light here.  It’s a nice distraction, but there are days I just can’t.

Like today.  I just can’t.

Self-inflicted

Remember how I stopped drinking caffeine because I was stressed out and I assumed (I think correctly) that caffeine was adding to the problem (or at least not helping)?  I did pretty well for a couple of months.  I drank only decaf tea or water or decaf coffee, and I was breathing easily, sleeping well, and feeling good.  In the few instances I slipped and had regular coffee, I could feel it immediately (and all day long, with the pressure on top of my lungs and inability to take a deep enough breath). I also found that I can’t have decaf Starbucks coffee at all, although it’s possible they messed up that day and didn’t actually make it decaf.  Anyway, since we moved to Oregon, I haven’t been able to find decaf tea that isn’t herbal (and I really just want my black tea, people), so I’ve been drinking regular English Breakfast tea and having the occasional chai latte.  It’s been going okay!  I haven’t noticed any ill effects, I haven’t felt especially stressed, and I hope this means I can slowly make my way back to normal coffee.

Of course, I say that, but it’s not 100% true.  Yesterday, I had the same type of tea I’ve had all week, but during my run, I spent a lot of time thinking about this whole caffeine and stress thing, and I started to feel it again.  Did I bring it on myself?  Am I okay as long as I’m not thinking about it?  How is that supposed to help me out?  Telling myself not to think about it is about as useful as telling Ray not to think about the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  If I’m relying on NOT thinking about caffeine and stress to avoid feeling stressed, I might as well get used to a lifetime of having a toddler sit on my chest.

But hey, way to overthink it, girlie.  One day of mild stress after two months of almost zero physical signs of stress, when those two months included a stressful job and a cross-country move, is nothing to sneeze at.

Lots of reasons

I need to relax more.  I don’t mean to say that I’m rushing around like a crazy person (I’m not), but I’m starting to feel stressed again.  Deep breathing isn’t always working for me (I don’t feel like I can breathe deeply enough, which is bad enough on its own, but then adds to the stress), and my brain is racing.  It’s not about the move (although I’m sure the fact that it’s creeping closer and we have a lot to do isn’t helping, but really – that feels under control), and it’s not just about work.  It’s probably a lot about work, but there’s no quick fix for that (not any that don’t involve their own kinds of stress).  Regardless, I just want to handle it better.

This afternoon, John went off to fly, and I turned on the Yoga Radio station on Pandora.  My plan was to listen to it for a while during the end of my work day and then DO some yoga.  I managed half of that…I didn’t make it to the actual yoga part.  But it’s a start!

I think I’m going to drink less coffee, too.  Once I’m out of the creamer I have.  (No reason to let that go bad.)  I drank the last glass of a bottle of wine last night, and I’m thinking about not opening the next bottle for a while.  Part of the reason (for both coffee and wine) is the stress thing.  The rest of it is just that they’re empty calories.  I don’t need them.

And maybe this whole stress thing is coming on right now because I haven’t been exercising regularly this week.  I didn’t feel like this last week, and last week I ran five days in a row.  Then we had a massive snow storm, and I only ran once (Tuesday), and it wasn’t much of a run since I had to keep doubling back when the sidewalks ended in unshoveled snow and I kept stopping to pick my way across slush and ice.  I haven’t been to the gym, and I certainly haven’t done any exercising at home (because lazy).  Instead, I’ve eaten cookies and blueberry muffins and nachos.  Tonight’s dinner is chili, so I’m not really helping myself out there.  Make better choices!  I will.  Soon.

I’m not that important

Surprise!  Going to the office stresses me out.  It did today, at least.  I got in early (ten to 7), assumed I wouldn’t do much of the work I’d hoped to do (because that’s what happens when I’m in the office), tried to leave at 3pm, found myself swamped with things I’d be leaving half-done, and put my laptop to sleep at 3:45 hoping that all of the things I had open would still be there when I got home.

Luckily, they are all still there, but so are emails from people I can’t ignore.  So here it is, over 11 hours after I got to the actual office this morning, back on my work laptop feeling all anxious that I didn’t do some things.  I’m working on letting it go.  I replied to the people I can’t ignore.  Everything else that’s clamoring for my attention can be done first thing tomorrow.

I know this.  It’s not that important.  I’M not that important.  Nothing that needs to be done is a matter of life or death.

I’m repeating this.

I want to be able to relax tonight.

Ommmmmmmm…..

On the edge of my seat

Trepidation is the word of the day.  Last Wednesday, I told the head of HR about our plans for working remotely (and gave her the mid-August date).  She’s excited for us (yay!), and she said she’d tell the CFO and the CEO.  Once I hear back from her (or them), I’ll know if they’re with me or against me (it’s an us vs. them world!), and I’ll be able to share what’s going on with everyone (at work – you guys already know).

I HAVE to wait for their response.  If they support me, I can tell my team I’ll be working remotely, and we can work through any difficulties that might come up.  If they say no, then the conversation with my team will be very different.  My HR person said I should know by the middle of this week (it’s performance review time, and everyone is very busy), so I’ve been sitting on this for days and I WANT TO KNOW NOW.  Tomorrow is the middle of the week.  Has she told them?  Do they know?  Every time I see them, I wonder.

I hate being left hanging.  HR is usually very good at getting back to me, so I can only assume they (CFO, CEO) don’t know yet.  Or they know, they’re thinking about it, and they haven’t told HR anything yet.  I’m going to ask her, of course.  I’m not the type to sit and wait, and it’s been four full business days, so I’m not being crazy-impatient.  Just normal-impatient.

What a difference a mortgage makes

It’s amazing how much more relaxed I feel now that we’ve closed on the house.  It’s noticeable, apparently.  Several people at work have commented on it.  I was stressed about not having a contract on the house.  Then we got a contract, and I was stressed about our buyers not having a contract.  Then they got a contract, and I was stressed about packing and moving and timing and holding both deals together until closing.  That’s all over, we’re 100% moved, and I have fewer things to be stressed about.  It’s a wonderful thing.  AND I don’t have to worry about looking for a new job for a while.  Even better.  AND AND spring is coming.  It’s warmer, the days are longer, the sun is out, the birds are chirping* – I should stop before I jinx everything.

*Someone said that yesterday (the birds are chirping), and another coworker told us that her dad always said “the chirds are burping”.  Ruined forever (you’re welcome).  He also calls a parking spot a “sparking pot”, and it has rubbed off on her.  Dads are annoying that way, Dad.  Anyone: “What’s today?”  Me: “Friday.  Unless it rains.”  I do it EVERY TIME.

It’s my party. I can freak out if I want to.

Written this morning, approximately 10am:

There is no wrong answer.  There is a better answer, an easier answer, but any answer will have the same result.  So why am I so nervous?

I’m meeting with my boss in an hour, to tell her that we’re leaving the area by mid-August, but I’d like to keep my job and work remotely.  I have all kinds of supporting details about why and how and how this can work, but that’s the main point.  I figure there are four possible outcomes:

1. She says “Oh, how exciting!” and “Of course we can do that!”  Best outcome.

2. She’s less enthusiastic but willing to give it a try.  Good outcome.

3. She says “No, I’m sorry, but we can’t work that way.”  Not the best outcome.  I use the time to look for something that WILL let me do that while working here for the next five months.

4. She says no and fires me on the spot.  Highly unlikely, but possible.  Worst outcome.

No matter which of the four outcomes I get, we’re still leaving the area in 5 months.  This isn’t a negotiation.  We no longer have to carry a mortgage (whoopee!), so we can handle it if I end up unemployed for a few months.  I might even enjoy that.  For a little bit.  (John would totally be jealous.)  Mostly, I want to keep my salary and not have to look for a new job (because that sucks).  I’ll have to eventually, but I don’t want to now.

So…I’m nervous.  Logic has nothing to do with it.  It’s a hard conversation to have.  Deep breath in, deep breath out.


Post-Meeting Update:

My boss had the best possible reaction.  She didn’t exactly say “Oh, how exciting!”, but when I said we’re leaving the area in 5 months, and I would like to keep my job and just do it remotely, she said (very quickly and sounding somewhat relieved), “Let’s do that.”  No hesitation, no problems.  I am free.  We’re just not telling anyone until about a month out.  I feel SO much better.

Making an effort to relax (Is that an oxymoron?) (YOU’RE an oxymoron.)

I don’t want to be stressed.  So I’m declaring the house a stress-free zone.  (We’ll ignore the fact that the house is part of the problem.)  I don’t want to mix home-time with the outside world.  I’d like to come home and just relax.  If it’s not in the house, I don’t want to think about it.  Tonight has been a good start.  John was home when I got home, and we sat down to eat.  Watched an hour of TV, and now we’re listening to classical music and playing on our laptops at the dining room table.  Bedtime is not far off (tomorrow morning starts at 4:45), and tomorrow night I might try going back to yoga.  I want time that is quiet and peaceful and smells like lavender.  (I always want to spell “lavender” like “calendar”, but I get to the -dar at the end, realize it’s wrong, wonder why it’s wrong, change it, and move on.  Every time.)

If I have to deal with winter (it got dark so EARLY), I want my winter to be warm and cozy and quiet and relaxing and you know, since our house isn’t selling, that doesn’t seem like too much to ask.  I want to stay HOME.

I need a little more Kermit in my life

I started reading Jim Henson: The Biography.  The very first chapter describes a scene between Kermit and a little girl singing her ABC’s on Sesame Street, a scene I remembered as I was reading about it. I’ve seen that – it’s adorable.  Still, I read to the end and burst into tears.  You know, like anyone would.

That’s normal, right? (I’ve been a little stressed lately.)

Then there will be no one to hear you scream

Why haven’t I learned this lesson yet?

It’s never a good idea to go to work on the day you’re going to travel.

I should get that tattooed on my arm.  This was not a normal Friday.  They’re usually pretty slow, pretty easy.  Today should have been typical – my schedule was wide open. I should have had plenty of time to do the things I needed to do before leaving.  Did that happen?  Of course not!  Today’s the day everyone needed something.  I did end up getting the big things done and postponing the rest, but I spent the morning in a frenzy of activity.  Not the good kind of frenzy.

Frenzy is SUCH a weird word.

Now let’s hope I can get the last-minute packing details done before the cab comes.  I hate it when the cab arrives before I’m ready.  Of course, I hate it more when the cab is late.

I’m trying not to be too optimistic

The house has been officially listed since Thursday morning.  Which I just realized was only yesterday.  Feels like forever ago.  It’s been shown four times now – three yesterday evening (day 1 on the market) and once this afternoon (day 2).  When our agent told us about the three showings yesterday, I was (still am) trying really hard not to get overly excited and be all “we’ll have a contract by the end of the day and we won’t even NEED to have an open house” while twirling around the kitchen.  That’s not likely (the quick contract – the twirling is all too likely).  Then when I come down from the over-optimisticness (and the dizziness), I go too far in the other direction.  “We’ve had four showings already and no offers yet – NO ONE is going to want to buy our house.” I mean, come on.  It’s been two days, and we’re not exactly in the middle of a housing boom.  It’s too early for the doom and gloom.  I need to find a calm, centered, serene middle ground where I can keep the house clean without obsessing over whether leaving the dog bowls out or not cleaning the windows again EVERY morning is driving potential buyers away.

Maybe I should go clean the windows again.

The open house is tomorrow.  Cross your fingers!

Good morning

I’m off to DC for work this morning, and I didn’t want to get up early enough to go to the gym for a real workout, so I decided to make it a yoga day.  I don’t feel like what I did counts as working out since I didn’t do it for long,  but it felt nice.  It was quiet and peaceful and full of stretching.  And I think I needed it to balance out the very stressful dream about traveling to Peru.  We were packing to get ready for the big vacation, but I couldn’t remember the name of the town or area in Peru we were going to, so I couldn’t look up the weather forecast, and I didn’t know what to pack.  I was scanning my email for the details, but all I could find were pictures of goats, and none of them were captioned with the name of the town.  Very stressful.  Then John’s alarm went off, and I bolted upright, arms flailing, totally startled awake.  I hate alarms.  I needed yoga.

Now I’m eating my breakfast of granola and yogurt, listening to the yoga station on Pandora (which is great until the ad breaks – jarring), and glancing at the clock to see how much more time I have before I have to get in the shower and get moving (not much).  But that way leads to rushing and stress, and who needs that?