Message in a Bottle

imageI had a horrid day on Tuesday, and I can’t even tell you why.

It was one of those days where things didn’t go wrong, but they seemed hard for some reason. Very hard. I felt… I dunno. Panicked, I guess. I felt like there was a tremendous amount of pressure on me to perform, to do things well, right, perfect even. I felt I had no room for error, no room for a miscue of any kind. (This would make sense if you knew what I had to do. Suffice it to say I could cost the company money, put my boss in the middle of a fight he didn’t want and doesn’t need, make our division and team look bad, and piss off a bunch of customers, all in one fell swoop.)

So I ground my teeth and knit my brows and tensed my shoulders. I prayed, a lot. I walked away from my desk more than once, just to get to a point of being able to face the never-ending task again. Only this time there’s more of it, more to do, more building and demands. This one’s urgent, that one requires a twenty-four hour turn-around, I’m about six days behind all of them and they just keep coming, moving forward. The flow doesn’t care I’m having a bad day, having a hard time, struggling to do the work of three people as one. Oh, and keep up my regular duties too as well as get some other stuff going which isn’t part of my normal routine.

On the horizon is help, but that horizon line keeps moving… or at least that’s how it looks from here. I can’t seem to gain ground on it, to close the gap at all, and that magical “soon” drifts agonizingly away from my outstretched hope.

imageBut for now, it’s me and only me. Another one comes in, then another. Seventy-one, -two, -three… I gain a little ground, get it under seventy. I do some of my other duties and come back. Seventy-four, -six. I race to close them, solve them, do them right, make no mistakes, get them out. I came in Monday and there were ninety-two waiting. I worked hard, got a breath of fresh air with some help, and kept going. Monday is a heavy day for me. Reports to generate, data to scrub, again no mistakes! My boss sends this to internal and external clients. It has to be right. Get it right!

The early afternoon I turn to it and hit as hard as I can. Help. Someone to contribute; we get it down to about 54. Tuesday back to seventy-one to start. I don’t know where it will go the next day. Stay on it!

Emails demanding my attention be diverted to other things. They press me, hound me, pressure. Call my boss when I don’t respond. I can’t do both, customers have the priority – I take my chances, try to explain.

Why can’t I go faster, do more in a day? Why is this so much harder for me than for the people who taught me to do it?

Back on it. Over and over. Some of them start to look the same, I get confused, which ones did I do? Which can I leave for another day? Who’s the one I need to respond to in twenty-four hours? Is that reasonable? Possible?

I came home disoriented, drained, discouraged and defeated. My loving wife greets me with my smiling children and the hugs melt some of the pain away, and I cling to her for a few moments. Later I can talk about it. Some.

Then I decide to ignore my responsibilities, ignore my duties for a bit, and just play on the Internet. I open an email and find… It’s from God. And He tells me I can call on Him anytime when things feel too hard for me to do it alone.

I cried a little. Not much. But a little. And I knew then my evening was going to turn around. To top it off I had a lot of fun playing a silly game and set a personal best, then broke it two rounds later. Not earth-shattering, but fun. And I went to bed smiling. Wednesday nothing will be different, the demands will all be there. But I’ll be different, perhaps.

Perhaps.

-JDT-

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
   don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
   he’s the one who will keep you on track
.
Proverbs 3:5-6 [The Message]

Copyright 2011 DarcKnyt, All rights reserved

Try not to worry

I’m a worrywart. I don’t know how or why I became that way, but I am. I worry about everything. I’m gloomy, too. I see the worst things happening, never want to try anything because it’ll be hard or tricky, and never like going places without TO THE DOOR directions.

Worrying never put a cent in anyone’s bank account, never made anyone grow an inch, never stopped a single negative thing from happening. Worry never stopped tragedy befalling anyone, never prevented a car accident, never stopped a murder, rape or robbery. Worrying never did anything but cause me to worry, to suffer through things which might have been fun, and to miss out, but inaction most of the time, on things which might have been blessings.

Worry won’t stop the rain from falling, won’t keep the ice off the road, won’t keep the children safe from predators. Worry won’t change the circumstances in anyway, only my perception of things. It doesn’t alter any reality but mine.

Fear and worry go hand in hand. I wouldn’t worry if I weren’t afraid, and when I stop and think about it, I’m afraid of a lot of stuff. Fear never stopped a single thing from happening either. Just like worry, fear only freezes the scared one, and changes their course. The rest of the world, of course, goes on as it will, as it would. I had friends who shrugged at my fears, my worry, my paralysis and went on with their lives unimpeded, wondering why I didn’t. They were right, and I shouldn’t have.

With eyes clouded by worry I’ve watched my life swish by, with nothing to show for it but more years – and unfortunately more pounds – under my belt. I’ve worried about one thing or another in almost every circumstance I can recall, and when I didn’t worry something came along and knocked me for a loop. When that loop-knocking event occurred, it left me with one more thing to worry about the next time I did anything out of the ordinary path of my life, the ruts of my daily road.

The list grows and shrinks. New things to worry about are added every day, other things are scratched off. Give, take, retract and expand. The list never goes away, it just changes from time to time. What worried or scared me as a young man doesn’t bother me as a middle-aged man, but things I wasn’t afraid of then seem terrifying and looming now, towering in their menace.

My fears don’t alleviate but they don’t contribute or change things either. They are and they sit and they drown me. And no matter how much I hear the words, it’s never possible. “Try not to worry.”

I don’t even know what that means, I don’t think.

It’s just part of who and what I am, and I wonder if I’ll ever get over it. If I haven’t by now, when will I?

-JDT-

Copyright 2011 DarcKnyt, All rights reserved

Friday Free-for-all

Ah, Friday at last! Huzzah, huzzah!

The New Books

I heard from the editor about my two new books. Seems he took a look at the competition and realized NO ONE is publishing introductory books on HTML5 and CSS3 separately… just like I said. So now he wants to combine the two into a single baby-steps book. Good. NOW you’re talking. Of course, that’s going to HALVE my money. Dagnabit.

Still, it’s something. I want to pitch him a OneNote book, too, and see if I can get Fal to work on it with me. She’s fallen madly in love with OneNote, and I have to tell you, I knew it would happen. I tried to get her to use it back when I wrote the first of my technical books, and I tried to pitch it to the publisher then. But she’s way better with it than I am and I bet we can make it look exciting to the publisher now.

Whattaya think, babe?

The Job

Something amazing happened with my job and the programming side of things. I don’t know why other than the Lord just blessed me, but I looked at some code I’d looked at a thousand times before and it not only made sense, I’m about 80% finished with something I’ve been banging my head against fruitlessly for the last two and half months. I’m so excited I could just puke.

I also got to set up a new SharePoint site for our business group, develop a template for collecting data (I actually had a form designed but it wasn’t flexible enough for our needs and I don’t have time to research it), and maybe, just maybe, things are starting to fall into place. Maybe.

Thanks, Lord. The prayers of my wife and children seem to be having a positive affect.

Fitness

Yeah, not so much. I still haven’t started. I want to pick it up on a Friday when I can sleep in the next day and recover, then keep on my progress and develop a head of steam going into Monday.

Someone at work suggested maybe it’s like a lot of other things. When we think about it, it’s easy to make a big, scary dragon out of it when really it’s not much at all. We psych ourselves into being sedentary this way. I know I do, for sure.

But this ends this weekend. I have nowhere to go, nowhere to be. I’m going to do this.

Dieting

Since I’m not exercising, I figured I’d better be extra diligent in my diet. So far, so good. My loving spouse and I have been on it for about two months now, and I’m starting to see – and feel – the difference. My clothes aren’t so constrictive, I’m wearing shirts I haven’t worn in a couple of years, and maybe more like three or four.  They’re not stretched taut over my gut either. So that’s something.

Yeah, it’s working. And you know what? I don’t miss the things I’m giving up to do this. I really don’t. Whether or not it’s realistic remains to be seen, but my goal is to get myself from where I am to under 10% body fat. I’ve never been that lean before, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be now.

I hope.

Miscellany

I’m way happier with our TV. We took the one with the bright spots in it back and bought another one somewhere else. It’s a couple inches smaller, but I think it’s a better size for our room. And the picture is MUCH better because I got the HDMI cable to go with it. We got a PS3 for a Blu-Ray player and the kids absolutely adore Little Big Planet. Thanks to Onyx Nightingale for that recommendation! Great call sweetie. Now… any others? ‘Cause Little Big Planet 2 is way too expensive. 😉

The Wii has been relegated to what it actually is – a basic game machine. My son loves his Mario, so those games see action. Who says you don’t need more than one game system? XBox 360 Kinnect, here we come. 😉

I don’t know whether to buy the kids a new computer for their little games and stuff or get myself a really nice one and give them this one. There’s nothing wrong with the one I have, but it’s not the best thing out there either. I saw a triple core machine I liked, and I think I saw a quad-core too, but I don’t know if I want to drop a grand on a PC. At the same time, I do want a bigger HDD and more RAM, and having higher processor speeds wouldn’t be a bad thing. I haven’t decided, but then, I don’t have my mad money yet either. When I get it I guess I can decide.

What’s up with all of you? Any plans for the weekend? Sound off and let me know, y’all.

Have a good one whatever you do.

God bless!

-JDT-

Copyright 2011 DarcKnyt, All rights reserved

A Bold New World!

I have insurance cards in my pocket. One for healthcare, one for vision, one for alternative medical treatments.

I got them last week – Friday, a week ago exactly – and I realized over time it opened a bold, brave new world for me.

When I lost my last full-time job, I lost the insurance they provided shortly therein. COBRA, if you don’t know, is freaking EXPENSIVE. I couldn’t handle it. I’d just lost my job, after all. So after the initial 30 days they give you, I had to cancel it.

No more insurance, healthcare for the kids, wife… nothing.

  • I can’t let the kids play too rough because if one of them gets hurt…
  • I have to be careful, not slip, fall, nothing…
  • I can’t get treatment if I have a severe asthma attack…
  • I can’t take a chance on getting a sinus headache – or God forbid, a sinus infection – because…

The list goes on and on. But God took care of us. We had nothing more severe than the flu come through our house. We have never had any sort of incident with our car. I just changed the oil for the first time in a couple of years the weekend before last. It’s pretty amazing.

But a lot of folks don’t look at small miracles and recognize them. All I know is now, I have the insurance, but you know what? I don’t feel any safer than I did before. I still think we’re protected by a much stronger coverage than I can get from any agency with a logo and address in New York city.

It’s nice to know it’s there though. And I will never forget where it came from.

-JDT-

Weekly Post

Yes, friends, it’s time once again for me to regale you with tales from my life and times of excitement, intrigue and adventure. Unfortunately, I don’t live that life and so all I have to regale you with are boring stories of stuff which actually happened to an actual person in our house.

More unfortunately still, I have no such stories with which to regale you at the moment. Work was very slow last week, so I focused on trying to accomplish some of the tasks my boss left for me before went out for the rest of the year. I didn’t get them all done (he didn’t expect I would), but I got through some of them. The stickler is one where a report is generated from an ASP page (that’s Active Server Page, if you don’t know) for my boss. He wants a condensed version for customers, but I haven’t gotten all the way through the code yet. I’ll get there, I just hope he’s patient enough to wait for me to do so. That’s on my docket for NEXT week, along with taking over some of the reports he’s been putting together for clients and managers internally and externally. Fun. Pressure. I love it. (No I don’t.)

I love the company and the people, and I just have to learn my job. I made an executive decision on Thursday which I HOPE will not negatively impact the job and the functions of the system they have. I hope. I pray. Oh, Lord God do I ever pray. But it’s a built-in failure point, and I tried to find a way to solve it for a long period rather than bandaging the system every time it comes up. When the system fails, it sends all manner of things happening and opens the door for even more mistakes (all on my part, of course), so I thought addressing it over the long(er) term would be better. God knows. I’ll find out.

So, I stayed until the last of the team members left on Thursday (two hours before quittin’ time as a benny), and then I shut down, locked up and went on home. I hope there’s nothing smoldering when I get back to work tomorrow.

I’d love to tell you I’ll become more regular with blogging soon, but the fact is, I don’t know if I will/can. For one thing, I’m dog-a$$ tired when I get home. And for another, it’s time for me to address other goals I’ve had for 2011. I lost my computer back in December, I don’t have the funds for a new one (and let’s face it, Fal is going to get hers first unless we can swing ‘em both at the same time which is VERY unlikely), and that’s thrown a HUGE, sopping wet blanket on my fire for getting a novel written by year’s end. Or even a Friday Flash entry. So… no writing for me. That stings.

The ‘Net is… well, not INaccessible, but pretty close. When it IS available, I”m long asleep and on my way to the next morning. So weekends, the only days I seem to be able to catch up on much-needed rest for my aging, dilapidated body, is spent trying to recover and grocery shopping. It’s not an idea life, but this is the penalty I pay for being the way I am at the moment. 2011 will see a change in that, but it’s going to take time.

Anyway, I hope you all had a fantastic holiday season and that 2011 will be great for you. For here, it’s a time of excitement and anticipation. We can’t say why, but we’re looking forward to the new year with bated breath and expect something phenomenal to happen. Who knows? Maybe it will.

God bless and see you next time I find a connection and a keyboard. 😉

-JDT-

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