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These words are my diary screaming out loud

Friday, February 25, 2011


That's how I feel today.

I spend a lot of time at work running around going to meetings. There are a lot of people that ask me questions. My boss takes me with him to meetings because I'm his subject matter expert. Several other people around the Agency get nervous when I'm not at their meetings.

That's what makes the last few days so hard. Wednesday when I came into work I found out that I had, for the 3rd straight quarter, not won the Agency-level employee of the quarter award that my bosses had put me up for.  Then, on Thursday, I found out I hadn't won the next level down employee of the quarter type award that my bosses had put me up for. Then today I found out that I had not been approved to attend the leadership development program I'd applied for.

I don't want to sound petty. I really don't. At first, I didn't care all that much. But my first line boss did - he was mad at the first, madder at the 2nd, and really pissed off today. And you know what? I kind of am too. Maybe its combined with this whole pending government shut down thing - Congress will still get paid for not doing their job, but to make a point, they're going to screw the rest of us by not paying us? Please tell me on what planet that makes sense. I'm also still exhausted from last weekend. I think maybe the roll up of everything is just hitting me all at once, and I feel defeated. I don't feel a burning desire to do a whole lot of work now. I feel like going ahead and starting to look for some positions at the next higher level outside of DC a little earlier than planned. 

I've never been one for demanding recognition for things - I just want to get the job done. So maybe its just expectation management - maybe I just don't want to know next time I get put up for an award, so I'm not disappointed when I don't get it again. Who knows.

Sigh. I wish that when I got this way I was one of those people who wants to work out, not one of those people who wants to go eat fried deviled eggs and drink beer...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mental Health Days

Certain things don't exist in the military. You can't quit. You can't really call in sick. You can't pick your own clothes or decide to randomly change your hair. And you surely can not just take a mental health day.

Which is why yesterday was my very first one. Ever.

Well, sort of.  I mean I did, but it wasn't just totally random.  We got back from Tallahassee on Monday, leaving a beautiful day of mid 70s and sun to return to cold, rain, and a forecast showing snow and ice over night. Awesome, right? I was already not really looking forward to waking up for work on Tuesday morning because I was so exhausted from the trip, mostly from the 4 hours of sleep I got Saturday night followed by a day of activity.  So when I woke up at 4am to an email from OPM (the guys that dictate this sort of thing) saying that the government was open, but with unscheduled leave/telework, I decided to take the unscheduled leave. I would have taken a couple of hours anyway, since our street hadn't been treated yet and there was a good looking layer of ice, but normally I'd have just gone in once they looked OK. But I decided I needed the day, and I took it.

And I did exactly one productive thing. The entire day. I did the dishes. After sleeping until around 10, vegging in bed until nearly noon, and getting lunch at Rustico. Then I spent the rest of the day vegging in my recliner. I did no school work. I did a little unpacking, but nothing major. I did no cooking. I did no cleaning. I did absolutely nothing, and was asleep by 930 last night. And it felt AMAZING.

Now I understand. Sometimes, you just need a day like that...

Monday, February 14, 2011

This is why I love books

I used to be a really avid reader. I taught myself to read at the age of four, and my kindergarten teacher basically let me choose my own reading curriculum because I was so far ahead of my peers. By the time we moved back to the States (middle of my 1st grade year) I had read almost every book on the "up through 4th grade" shelf in my school's library.  All the way through high school, I read all the time, because I didn't raelly need to study - school always came pretty easily for me.

When I hit USNA, that all changed. I was too exhausted to read, it would put me to sleep. And for the first time in my life, I didn't really have time to read for pleasure - I had to actually study. This continued through my years in the Navy - once I had my SWO pin, I read some books on deployment, but that was about it. I started reading a bit more when Matt's dad started sending me books, and I did the audiobook thing for a while. When I was unemployed, I read a bit more, but still not as much as I would have liked - I was broke, books aren't cheap!  Last fall, though, I decided to get myself a Kindle. I figured if I didn't have to go to the bookstore, maybe I'd read more. Its semi-working :)

A few months back, I joined a Book Club with a few ladies I met through Yelp!  The first few books we read were good, but the one we read for this month's meeting absolutely blew me (and the rest of us, based on the discussion we had) away.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick, is one of the most compelling works of nonfiction I have ever read.  Demick, a reporter for the LA Times Seoul bureau, spent several years interviewing North Korean defectors, and profiled six of them for the book. She told their stories factually, with no agenda or attempt to bias a reader one way or the other. She stuck to the facts and the stories, with very little mention of what the average American thinks of North Korea - nuclear weapons. As someone who maintains a fairly tunnel-visioned view of North Korea based on my line of work, I can truly say that I was moved nearly to tears more than once in this book.

I'd forgotten what it was liked to really be moved by a book, to feel such a connection to the characters that you feel as if they're real people. In this book, they really are real people, yet the concept of what life in North Korea is like is so foreign to those of us that have grown up with the benefit of being Americans that it doesn't seem as though its possible. Books like this are why I love reading so much, and reading them makes me miss reading.

Do yourself a favor and get your hands on a copy of Nothing to Envy. Its not super long, and a fairly quick read. It doesn't read like non-fiction, in that the stories are really well told. You can get it on Amazon for under $10, hard copy or Kindle, and you should be able to get it at your local bookstore or library, although I hear a lot of libraries have pretty long waiting lists for it.